New figures compiled by analytics firm Springboard have revealed that retail footfall across the UK decreased by 3.5% year-on-year in December, the steepest decline since March 2013 when footfall declined by 5.2%.
The drop, the steepest decline in almost five years, has been put down to a number of factors, including stagnant wages and a jump in inflation.
“The drop in footfall of -3.3% in the weeks leading up to Christmas provided a heads-up for December, with the final outcome of -3.5% of little surprise,” commented Diane Wehrle, director of marketing and insights at Springboard.
“This is a significant weakening in performance from December 2016 when footfall in retail destinations dropped by just 0.2 per cent.”
Responding to the figures, Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive, British Retail Consortium, said:
“The sharp drop in footfall this December, while sales grew overall, underlines how shopping is being transformed by the shift to online.
“In the past, shoppers would have exclusively visited physical stores to ensure stockings were filled for Christmas. Improved delivery options by both purely digital retailers and those with stores and an online offer mean many purchases of last minute gifts are moving online.
“The squeeze on discretionary spending also contributed to the decline in footfall. Households had to use their money more carefully, researching products online, rather than heading out to stores to browse.
“Retail parks fared slightly better than high streets by providing Christmas shoppers with the draw and convenience of parking, easy click-and-collect, and leisure facilities.”