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Footfall declines expected this Black Friday

Published: 13 November 2017 - Fiona Garcia

Shopper footfall across high streets, retail parks and shopping centres is set to dip -0.6% on Black Friday for first time in four years, as consumers feel the pinch.

Retail intelligence experts Springboard today forecast that year-on-year footfall figures for Black Friday, which will take place on November 24 this year, will decline for the first time since the discount day became an established key trading day in 2013.

The predicted drop in footfall has been attributed to the increasing constraints on household budgets from rising inflation and the recent interest rate rise.

Springboard believes the latest impact of the rate rise of up to 0.5% in November, which will bump up mortgage costs for homeowners, has caused consumers to be even more cautious and tighten purse strings. The most recent consumer price index inflation figure was 3% for September and the cost of living has been running above the target of 2% for most of this year.

Sales and footfall is also likely to be more evenly spread over the period, with a number of retailers having kicked off their pre-Christmas sales early, eager to capitalise on any spend over the festive period.

Traditionally, Black Friday – the payday weekend for many and a national Thanksgiving holiday in America - has signalled the start of the Christmas shopping season, with retailers slashing prices and consumers purchasing big-ticket items at and electrical goods, However, Springboard believes the current economic climate means this trend could see a shift this year.

According to the retail intelligence firm, UK retail parks will experience a modest increase in footfall for Black Friday compared to its high street and shopping centre counterparts, increasing by 0.1% year on year. This, Springboard believes is a reflection of “their continued buoyancy and ability to buck national trends” driven by their accessibility, click & collect services and the ever-growing leisure offer alongside retail stores.

Springboard marketing and insight director Diane Wehrle said: “As well as consumers being more cautious with their spending habits due to inflation and interest rates rises, sales have also already started so there is no big moment in the lead up to Black Friday. This will certainly affect footfall across the country for the Black Friday weekend. Consumers simply won’t be as eager to spend because they have less money in their pockets and they have already been spoilt for choice as retailers have unusually run sales in the last few months, crucially outside of the traditional discount periods”.

Despite the drop in footfall year on year, retailers are optimistic that footfall will increase 18% on Black Friday compared to the previous week [Friday, November 17], with UK high streets coming out on top and predicting to see a 20% rise in footfall week on week. This double digit growth is representative of a consistent pattern that the retail market has seen over the last three years in the week leading to Black Friday.


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