Footfall falters in damp December

December’s heavy rain left many shoppers reluctant to brave the elements, who instead opted to browse online before making final purchases, or shop online altogether.

According to the latest BRC-Sensormatic IQ Footfall Monitor for December 2023, Total UK footfall decreased by 5.0% in December (YoY), down from -0.7% in November. High Street footfall decreased by 4.2% in December (YoY), down from -1.7% in November.

Retail Parks footfall decreased by 4.8% in December (YoY), down from -1.0% in November. Shopping Centre footfall decreased by 7.4% in December (YoY), down from -2.2% in November.

Of the UK nations, Scotland saw the least significant YoY drop in footfall, showing a decrease of 2.2%. Northern Ireland saw a YoY drop in footfall of 4.7%. This was followed by England and Wales, both at 5.8%.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Some cities, such as Edinburgh, bucked the trend, and saw footfall levels rise in December thanks to recent investment in new, exciting shopping destinations.

“With a general election on the cards later this year, we are calling for the political parties to set out a clear and cohesive plan for retail in their manifestos. This plan must take account of the regulatory cost burden and broken business rates system which are limiting business investment and growth. Ways also need to be found to create thriving shopping destinations and drive customer footfall back up again in 2024.”

Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, commented: “One of the wettest Decembers on record combined with dampened consumer confidence and ongoing spending caution meant some retailers may have been left disappointed in last month’s footfall performance.  While we saw festive glimmers of shopper traffic peaks in and around discounting days, such as Boxing Day when footfall improved +39.2% week-on-week, many may have been waiting for a last-minute Christmas trading rush that never came. 

“There’s little doubt that the overall downward year-on-year trajectory in store visits in December – usually the crescendo of the Golden Quarter – will have come as a blow.  Retailers will be hoping that demand improves as inflation starts to ease and the impact of the inflationary spending squeeze on disposable incomes softens.”

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