Festive footfall drops in December to reflect the changing face of shopping
Retail footfall in December was 2.4% lower than the same month a year ago as people made fewer shopping trips and bought more gifts online in the run-up to Christmas.
Figures released by the British Retail Consortium show that high streets experienced the greatest fall with a drop of 3.7%. On a three-month basis, high street footfall declined by 3.8% to mark the worst drop since August 2012.
Footfall in out-of-town locations and shopping centres fell 1.2% and 1.8% respectively on a three month basis.
All regions with the exception of Wales, the South West, and Northern Ireland, reported footfall above the UK average of -2.4%.
BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: "These figures highlight how the rapid evolution of multichannel is 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 like click and collect so that they could cover off their festive spending at their convenience.
"The timing of Christmas was also a major factor behind peaks and troughs in shopper numbers during December – with the big day falling on a Wednesday many people held off on finalising their festive spending in the last few days.
"We saw in last week's sales figures that the final result was respectable overall, with multichannel the ‘story of the season'. These figures similarly highlight that continuing caution and changing spending habits were central themes of Christmas trading in 2013."
Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard, added: "The combination of the emphasis by retailers to drive online sales and the discounting introduced by retailers early on in the month meant that shoppers delayed visits to retail destinations until as late as possible which adversely affected footfall early on in the month. And then, over the last weekend before Christmas, severe weather suppressed what retailers hoped would be the last burst of peak trading activity so that footfall did not have an opportunity to recover before the holiday period."
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