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Discounting and promotions fail to lift November footfall

High streets bore the brunt of footfall declines in November - down 4% - continuing a trend that has seen footfall declining in all but one month this year.

Across all retail destinations footfall was 2.4% lower on average than the same month in 2013. Shopping centres posted a 2.4% decline and out-of-town destinations registered a modest rise of 0.8%.

Most regions and countries in the UK reported declining footfall, with the exception of the East of England (2.2%), the West Midlands (1.5%) and Scotland (0.9%), according to data from the British Retail Consortium and Springboard.

“The results clearly indicate that the structural shift in consumer activity brought about by the internet is ongoing, and that it is largely out-of-town locations that are continuing to capitalise on this change,” Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard.

She pointed out that retail parks started at a much lower base than high streets and shopping centres, and also that free parking is seen as a major benefit of these destinations.

“It is particularly disappointing for high streets and shopping centres that the significant price promotions offered over the Black Friday weekend were not sufficient to turn the tide over the month.

“Indeed, it suggests that if retailers are to encourage shoppers back into bricks and mortar stores then there needs to be a greater focus on the enhancement of the customer experience, rather than a knee jerk reaction towards discounting which only undermines margins and long term profitability.”

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said the figures suggested people are buying more non-food items per shopping trip, often having researched their purchase online or chosen to click-and-collect.

She pointed to a shift in shopping habits: “Whereas once multiple shopping trips for a few items and leisurely browsing were the norm, now increasingly savvy shoppers are streamlining their visits to stores when making non-food purchases. The most successful shopping destinations are ensuring they have a range of other experiences and activities on offer to drive up footfall.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • Mick Harwood

    So, in a nutshell those who discounted over the last weekend of November, didn't sell any more, they just sold it cheaper.

    I'm glad I didn't jump on the bandwaggon.

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