High streets and retail parks both reported drops in footfall in November

High streets and retail parks both reported drops in footfall in November

UK retail footfall dropped year-on-year in November, bringing bad news for British stores hoping for increased shopper traffic in the run-up to Christmas. 

The latest BRC/Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor found shopper numbers were down 1% on a year ago, deepening the 0.9% fall in October, and just below the three-month average rate of -0.8%.

High streets and retail parks both reported drops in November, down 0.7% and 0.1% respectively, with the former recording the third consecutive month of declines. Shopping centres, however, saw a 1.9% decline in footfall last month, a slight improvement on the 2% fall in July. 

Footfall in shopping centres fell for the tenth consecutive month, declining 2.3% in November. This dragged the three-month average to -2.2%, after having remained at -2.1% for the four consecutive months leading up to November. 

"Black Friday did little to impact the overall monthly trend in footfall," said Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium. "Whilst the event clearly attracted shoppers to stores, it was retailers' online offerings who were the real winner, with shoppers for non-food items spending more than one in four pounds online, setting a new record for online share.

"It's clear that the browser is rapidly replacing the high street as the venue of choice to hunt down a bargain. With that trend set to continue, the role of physical stores – still an enormously important part of retail – is shifting and retailers are having to re-engineer and reinvent their real estate to work seamlessly with their digital presence."

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director for Springboard, believes the further decline shopping centre footfall is an ongoing trend of particular concern.  

"Some of this reduction is inevitable, as malls are dominated by retailers that trade equally effectively online, leading to a shift away from the need for frequent functional trips to longer, leisure driven trips that are undertaken less often. The challenge for malls is future proofing their success by delivering an integrated retail experience that satisfies consumers appetites, suggesting that if investors don't regain confidence to invest in upgrading their shopping centres, the decline could continue throughout 2017."