Brexit and e-shopping deal another big blow to UK physical stores - Springboard
Retail footfall took another turn for the worse in the UK last month with the latest comprehensive tracking figures by Springboard showing a 3.2% decline year-on-year.
Footfall had grown 0.2% in November 2017 but it hasn’t grown since and so the latest figures marked a full years’ worth of declines. The East, South East and East Midlands experienced the deepest declines of 5.6%, 4.8% and 4.7%, respectively. The figures cover the four weeks to November 24.
“November numbers illustrate the ‘Black Friday’ effect of driving more shopping online during the period which is also becoming longer,” Springboard said, adding that it’s forecasting a drop of 4.2% this month, even bigger than the 3.5% fall a year ago.
High street footfall declined by 3.8%, the fourth month of consecutive weakening of this shopping location. This was the largest decline since April when it fell by 4%. Retail park footfall also fell deeper into decline. At -1.4% in November, this is also the deepest fall since April when it dropped by 1.8%. And shopping centre footfall was down 3.8%, a sharper drop even than the October 2018 rate of -3.3% and the November 2017 rate of -1.3%.
Diane Wehrle, Springboard Marketing and Insights Director, said: “[This] is indisputable evidence that Black Friday delivers no tangible benefit to bricks and mortar stores. Whilst online shopping was inevitably more prevalent than in other months, the vast majority of spending still remained in-store and this is what Black Friday impacts adversely. Since 2013, when Black Friday became established as a key trading day, footfall has decreased in every year bar one and the only increase, in 2017, was just 0.2%.”
She added that last month’s fall was the biggest November drop since the company started publishing footfall data back in 2009.
And it seems there were no snippets of good news in among the bad as Black Friday week itself saw a decline of 5.5%, while like-for-like spend fell 0.5%.
And the reason it was quite so bad? Well clearly, the growth of online is having a major impact. But the other big issue appears to be… yes, Brexit.
“As we head into the zenith of the retail trading calendar, both retailers and consumers alike are in the midst of the greatest degree of uncertainty in recent times,” Wehrle said. “However, the fact that the parliamentary vote is not taking place until the middle of December might deliver a slight glimmer of hope for some large ticket item retailers, as consumers may purchase now rather than later in an attempt to outrun inflationary pressures that are expected should the Brexit deal not be ratified.”
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