High streets failed to tempt shoppers into stores this Christmas, with footfall down 3.7% in December as bad weather deterred last-minute bargain hunters.
Footfall across all retail destinations was 2.4% lower than 2012, following the 2.9% drop in November, but high streets were the worst hit. Wales, the Southwest and Northern Ireland recorded the biggest drops, down 3.8%, 3.4% and 8.7% respectively.
On a three-month basis, footfall to high streets has now fallen 3.8%, the worst decline since August 2012, when the Olympics affected shopper numbers. At out-of-town locations footfall dropped 1.2% while shopping centres fell 1.8%.
Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at retail consultancy Springboard, said: “The drop in footfall was double that of December 2012 but, unlike last year, high streets bore the brunt with an annual decline of more than double that in shopping centres.”
British Retail Consortium director general Helen Dickinson said the footfall figures showed how multichannel retail was “changing the face of shopping, particularly at Christmas”.
“Rather than making multiple trips to the shops over the festive period, many of us planned ahead for our gift buying and took advantage of retailers’ investment in services such as click-and-collect so they could cover off their festive spending at their convenience,” she explained.
The figures were supported by data published by IMRG Capgemini this week, which showed that £91bn was spent online in 2013, £11bn of which came in December. Clothing spend increased 17%.