Strong trade either side of tomorrow’s royal wedding is expected to offset the fall in sales forecast on the big day itself, when most people are expected to watch the nuptials.
Footfall is predicted to drop 16% tomorrow when the world tunes in to watch Prince William marry Kate Middleton, compared with the same Friday last year, according to figures from Experian FootFall.
However, as Drapers went to press it was expected footfall would increase 2% from April 26 to April 28 compared to last year, as momentum continued from the Easter weekend and with many people enjoying an 11-day vacation after taking the week off in between the bank holidays.
Experian FootFall product manager Neil Bennett said: “February and March were more challenging, with the running rate performance closer to -2%. The addition of an extra holiday day for the royal wedding, the timing of Easter and, for some, better weather will mean more leisure time for people but it won’t necessarily mean they spend this time shopping.” He predicted a bounceback on Saturday and then a return to more “normal” trading patterns.
Colin Temple, managing director of footwear chain Schuh, agreed: “We are expecting quiet trade on Friday. But after that, especially if the weather remains pleasant, we should continue to see good trading.”
Andrew Murphy, director, retail operations at department store chain John Lewis, said: “We are opening from 1pm on Friday and are predicting a strong Saturday. By the end of Friday there will be pent-up demand due to the wedding and the weather. People will also be back from holiday so Saturday will be strong and should offset any sales drop on Friday.”
British Fashion Council chairman Harold Tillman said: “People will probably be glued to their TV sets or out watching the procession. Hopefully, they’re also out spending money as part of the festivities.”
The number of tourists in the UK for the wedding is also likely to boost sales over the weekend.
Dilip Patel, managing director of retail group Inditex UK, owner of chains including Zara, said: “Half a million visitors are supposed to be coming for the wedding and they’ll be shopping when they’re here.”
Jace Tyrrell, director of the New West End Company, which represents 600 retailers on London’s Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street, said: “There were 2 million visitors in London over the Easter weekend and not all were from abroad, a lot were UK visitors and we expect similar this weekend.
“Friday won’t be outstanding but we expect the rest of the weekend to be quite busy.”