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Footfall drops in December

Tough trading conditions were reflected by a drop in footfall in December as the number of people visiting shops fell by 1.2% year-on-year.

Declines were seen in all types of location monitored by the British Retail Consortium (BRC)/Springboard Retail Footfall Monitor.

Shopping centres reported the greatest fall with a drop of 2.8% while out-of-town areas saw a 1% drop.The high street experienced a 0.5% decline.

Wales was the hardest hit part of the UK with footfall slipping 11.5%. The East of England saw footfall go down by 7.1% while in the North and Yorkshire it fell 4.8% apiece.

However four regions reported an increase in footfall during the month with the West Midlands delivering a 10% surge in footfall while Scotland and Greater London rose by 6.2% and 3.1% respectively.

Helen Dickinson, BRC director general, said: “It wasn’t a bumper Christmas but it wasn’t a disaster either. Our December retail sales figures showed very modest sales growth for the market as a whole.”

Although shopper numbers were down conversion rates were good, she added.

“When people did get out to the shops they bought more per trip,” explained Dickinson.

“The growing popularity of online retail also had an impact on shopper numbers, but it’s important to remember that online retail sales are only just over 10% of all retail spending and many people took advantage of the investment retailers have made in giving flexible delivery options. Click-online and collect-in-store came into its own.”

Springboard research director Diane Wehrle said: “The tough trading conditions faced by retailers are reflected in footfall trends, with annual declines in all but one week in both November and December, which coincided with the payday weekends.

“In December, customers were savvy to retailers’ discounting, leaving it very late to do the bulk of their Christmas shopping, holding off until the last full week before Christmas when footfall increased annually by 7.5%. However, this late surge wasn’t enough to drive footfall up from last year, leaving the month down by 1.2% year on year.”

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