Early signs of footfall recovery, says BRC

A slight uptick in consumer confidence, as well as easing inflationary pressures and more predictable weather, led to an improvement in footfall compared to the previous month.

According to the latest BRC-Sensormatic IQ Footfall Monitor for November 2023, Total UK footfall decreased by 0.7% in November (YoY), an improvement on -5.7% in October.

High Street footfall decreased by 1.7% in November (YoY), an improvement on -4.6% in October.

Retail Parks footfall decreased by 1.0% in November (YoY), an improvement on -4.3% in October.

Shopping Centre footfall decreased by 2.2% in November (YoY), an improvement on -7.3% in October.

Of the UK nations, Wales saw the least significant YoY drop in footfall, showing a decrease of 0.4%. Scotland saw a YoY drop in footfall of 0.9%. This was followed by England at 1.0% and Northern Ireland at 4.9%.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “After a slow October start, the month-long Black Friday sales helped to get shoppers out to their town and city centres. While all parts of the UK saw footfall drop in October; both West Midlands and Yorkshire managed positive growth in November.

“The extensive cost-pressures on the retail industry over the last two years have limited investment and driven up prices at many shopping destinations. The Chancellor’s failure to commit to a business rates freeze in his recent Autumn Statement will inflict hundreds of millions of pounds in additional costs. This will inevitably slow the decline in inflation, as well as limiting long term investment and limiting any upside from improvements in UK footfall.”

Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, commented: “Despite disruption from Storm Ciaràn earlier in the month, November’s footfall rallied, buoyed by Black Friday trading and retailers offering extended discounts to spark early Christmas spend and secure festive share of wallet.  Last month, footfall recovered to its highest performance levels since July, however, it’s worth noting that, while welcome, this recent boost to retailers has been driven by price and promotions sensitive shopping behaviours. 

“Discounting events have proved a major draw, with footfall on Black Friday rising +52.4% week-on-week for example.  We have also seen that improvements in total retail footfall last month were significantly shored up by outlet store visits, as consumers try to make spend go further.  Undoubtedly, footfall’s recovery in November will allow retailers to look ahead to Christmas trading with more confidence, but the challenge will be not just encouraging ongoing spend into December when disposable incomes remain squeezed, but also ensuring discounting is optimised to protect margin.”

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