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Shoppers delay spending until last days before Christmas

New figures have shown that retail footfall dipped year-on-year from 18 to 21 December as shoppers defer their present buying to the last possible moments due to this year’s two extra trading days ahead of the big day.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Shoppers delay spending until last days before Christmas

New figures have shown that retail footfall dipped year-on-year from 18 to 21 December as shoppers defer their present buying to the last possible moments due to this year’s two extra trading days ahead of the big day.

Springboard’s data shows that footfall declined by 7.7% in the period. The week-on-week increase of 13.1% was much lower than the 22% increase on the same four days in 2015 although last year this period included 23 December which is traditionally the busiest day of the festive season.

Diane Wehrle, Springboard insights director, said: “Footfall results to date show an edge of caution amongst shoppers this Christmas. Shoppers are taking advantage of the two extra trading days this week, using the time to make more considered purchases and as a result, spending has been delayed. The slow in online transactions confirms shoppers’ caution and suggests they may be holding out for Boxing Day bargains.”

Springboard said retailers will be setting their sights on 23 December to drive shoppers to retail destinations and although Christmas Eve will see the last purchases through the tills, footfall is traditionally 20% lower compared with 23 December.

Although online spending continues to rise, the pace of increase has slowed this year, rising by 30.3% from the same days in 2015 compared with a 74.5% uplift between 2014 and 2015.

Wehrle added: “We anticipate this week’s footfall to reach its peak on Friday 23 December. Given the week’s performance is already tracking at -7.7% on 2015, overall it is likely to be lower than last year. A drop in footfall is not surprising; it is consistent with the long-term trend, given the growth in online. However, the dampening of online transactions’ growth suggests consumer spend is more widely spread than purely retail, reflecting the broadening of our choices and the growth of the hospitality sector.

“The first post-Brexit Christmas will be a learning experience for the retail industry as we observe how shoppers engage with leisure and retail following a tumultuous few months for the economy.”

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