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Christmas on a "knife edge" as footfall dips last week

High street footfall increased during the week commencing November 28 up by 15.6% year-on-year but this boost was short-lived as this figure dipped again the following week down 2.6% compared to the same week the previous year.

Data from the British Retail Consortium and retail data specialist Springboard showed that during the week commencing November 28 footfall across the high street, shopping centres and out-of-town locations was up 15.1% compared to the same week a year earlier, due to a combination of the public sector strikes and the end of the month payday.

The year-on-year growth was helped by soft comparatives as the same week a year earlier also saw much of the country blighted by snow which meant that footfall was down.

Week-on-week comparisons also show that footfall was up for the week commencing November 28 with an increase of 5.6% across all areas.

However, for the the following week commencing December 5, footfall dropped back 1.8% when compared to a week earlier, across all areas, and was down 2.3% compared to the same week a year ago.

On an annual basis both the high street and out-of-town footfall measures performed well growing by 15.6% and 15.9% respectively. Shopping centres also performed well rising by 8.9%.  Shopping centres saw the biggest boost to footfall, week-on-week, up by 11.4%.

“The final week of November was exceptional for footfall,” said Stephen Robertson director general of the BRC. “Many people had just been paid and headed out, a sharp contrast to the same week last year which was blighted by heavy snow.

“The day of industrial action was also used by many, off-work for the day, as an opportunity to hit the shops. In fact, the number of people visiting shopping centres was up by 40% on the day of the strikes compared with the same day last year.

“Footfall should be on a rising trend as Christmas gets closer. This drop shows festive sales are still on a knife edge. The fact Christmas Day falls on a Sunday will mean some shoppers leaving purchases until the final Saturday, but with only one full week of trading to go before the holidays the final result is very much hanging in the balance.”

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