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November footfall edges up

Footfall in November increased by 0.2% year on year in November, propped up by Black Friday discounting.

The slight increase was off the back of a 1% decline in November 2016, the BRC-Springboard Footfall Vacancies monitor indicated.

The south-east and north of the UK, as well as Yorkshire, had growth of 1.6% for the four weeks to 25 November.

The West Midlands was up 1.1%, the East Midlands and Wales were up 0.9%, and the east was up 0.8%.

Greater London recorded a slight decline of 0.1%, making it the fifth month of consecutive decline.

The deepest decline in footfall in November occurred in Northern Ireland, down 2.4%; Scotland, down 2%; and the south-west, which fell 1.5%.

Shopping centres were the poorest performers, growing in the south-west and Wales only. High streets showed positive growth for all but three regions: greater London, Northern Ireland and the south-west. Retail Parks continued to show growth, however at a decelerated rate of 0.3% compared to 1.8% six months ago.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of British Retail Consortium said: “November saw a slightly improved picture for shopper footfall as retailers enticed customers with early deals in the lead up to Black Friday. And while online continues to take the greatest share of Black Friday sales, stores continue to prove popular for visitors as showrooms and click and collect destinations.

“Though very welcome after four consecutive months of decline, the month’s growth in footfall is unlikely to signal a reversal of the longer-term trend. As price increases for food continue to eat into household finances, consumer spending power for discretionary non-food items will inevitably weaken. So a cautious consumer may sap some of the sparkle from this year’s Christmas trading, which means retailers are going to have to compete even harder for customer spend, which is always good news for consumers.”

Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director added: “Indeed, with nothing fundamental shifting in terms of inflation or interest rates over the intervening period since October, it lends further weight to the frequently quoted argument that Black Friday simply shifted the Christmas trading calendar forward. In the light of this, we are anticipating that footfall will be further challenged into December.”

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