December footfall lowest since records began

UK retail footfall reached its lowest December level since Ipsos Retail Performance started tracking the Retail Traffic Index (RTI) in 1998.

Footfall was as 9.3 per cent lower than December 2015, marking the largest year-on-year gap since March 2006. The uplift from November’s footfall was 30.8 per cent – marginally down on the five-year average of 31.2 per cent, suggesting that the disruption of Black Friday and the consumer shift towards online shopping is affecting traffic on the High Street.

The third week of December, leading up to Christmas Day – and including ‘Super Saturday’ on Christmas Eve – produced the busiest shopping week of the year, yet was still 1.7 per cent quieter than the same week in 2015, which itself had one day less of trading.

Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos, commented: “We had projected better performance in the run up to Christmas, as the 6.4 per cent year-on-year decline in November had been thought to be a consequence of Black Friday disrupting consumers’ traditional shopping habits. However, the 9.3 per cent deficit in December in fact points towards a more substantial structural shift that favours online shopping and a softening in overall consumer demand.”

Separate data from Worldpay found that online sales soared on Boxing Day, jumping 15 per cent year-on-year, as the cold weather deterred shoppers from the High Street.

Dave Glaser, chief product and marketing officer of Global eCom at Worldpay, added: “The January sales are still an important event in the UK retail calendar, but the ease of online shopping may well be overtaking the traditional excitement of hitting the High Street.”

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