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‘Early indicators point to an optimistic festive period’

In a challenging climate for the retail sector, it’s encouraging to see early indicators pointing to an optimistic festive period.

Footfall for the start of Christmas trading in November shows that UK retail footfall is up 0.5% year on year, and 5.1% on October.

Shopping and retail parks offering convenient travel and parking are starting to report positive footfall figures – over the first weekend in December, Glasgow Fort reported an encouraging 9.7% rise. UK city high streets have also begun the period well, with many choosing to host festive events to attract Christmas shoppers – London’s West End took £20m in the first three hours of this year’s traffic-free shopping event on Saturday, November 24.

This year, Sunday, December 23 is set to be the busiest day for Christmas shoppers. With the peak time for setting tills ringing falling on a Sunday, and last year’s busiest day seeing an increase of 22% on last year, the debate over whether retailers should have the option to take advantage of extended Sunday trading hours has been reignited.

As Christmas nears, we expect a continued rise in footfall as shoppers exploit the pre-Christmas, Boxing Day and January Sales, despite squeezed pockets.

  • Diane Wehrle is a research director at footfall monitoring organisation Springboard

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