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Footfall

Westfield enjoys Boxing Day footfall cheer

Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City attracted a combined 363,000 punters on Boxing Day through a combination of retail deals and experiences, up 3.4% on the same period in 2018.

It was Westfield London’s busiest day since it opened in 2008, with more 189,000 consumers descending on the west London site, with the company attributing a great portion of the success to experience activations.

Among those launched for 2019 were the Winter Village Christmas market, a Nordic-themed Christmas grotto, Naomi Campbell’s Fashion For Relief pop-up store and Merry Mutts Motel at Westfield London.

The firm also said the in-centre services it offers added to its festive attractiveness, including hands-free shopping, gift-wrapping,  concierge  and valet parking.

Myf Ryan, CMO Europe and Group Director of Brand and Strategic Marketing for Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, said: “Boxing Day has once again proved to be one of the busiest days of the year and we’ve welcomed more than 363,000 visitors across both Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City which is up 3.4%. Local and international visitors have flocked to our centres to make the most of the festive season by combining the best in retail with leisure and entertainment.”

Summer retail footfall declines, says BRC

Uk retail footfall declined by 2.9% in June, compared to the same point last year when it declined by 0.9%.

According to the latest British Retail Consortium & Springboard data, on a three-month basis footfall decreased by 2.4%. The six and twelve–month averages are at -1.3% and -1.7% respectively.

Meanwhile, High Street footfall declined by 4.5%, following from the increase of 0.1% in June last year. The three-month average decline is 3.5%.

Retail Park footfall increased by 0.1%, following from June 2018 when footfall decreased by 0.4%. The three-month average growth is 0.5%.

Shopping Centre footfall declined by 2.4%, following June 2018’s decline of 3.4%. The three-month average decline was 2.7%.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief-Executive at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Poor footfall this June led to a significant fall in the sales figures for the month. High streets were worst hit by the relatively poor June weather, with shopping centres also performing badly, however, retail parks managed to buck the trend. Last year’s World Cup and glorious sunshine set a high bar, which 2019’s slow consumer spending and Brexit uncertainty failed to live up to.

“High streets and shopping centres across the country need to invest in improving their consumer experience if they wish to see these footfall numbers reverse. Unfortunately, high business rates, as well as a raft of other public policy costs, mean there is little left over to spend on these improvements. If the Government wants to see more investment on the high street then they must reform the broken business rates system and give firms the means to make the necessary improvements.”

Diane Wehrle, Springboard Marketing and Insights Director, said: “The drop in footfall in June of -2.9% is disappointing; it was much more severe than the -0.9% drop in June last year and takes the rolling three month average to -2.4% versus -1.5% in 2018.

“However, given the exceptional and ongoing disruptive political and economic period we are facing coupled with unprecedented structural changes in the retail sector, we might actually expect consumer activity to have taken an even greater hit.  In reality, the drop in footfall of -1.4% for the year to date is still an improvement on the drop of -2.1% over the same period last year, so in context footfall performance has shown more resilience over the year to date than expected.

“It was clearly high streets and shopping centres that bore the brunt of consumers railing back on their shopping trips, whilst retail parks maintained their customer base.  However, whilst footfall in high streets across the UK dropped by -4.5% in June, the continuing and growing demand from consumers for experience meant that in regional cities – which by virtue of the sheer breadth and depth of their offer means they can deliver on experience – footfall was far more resilient, declining only very marginally by -0.6%. 

“And the same rule of ‘experience delivering results’ also applies for shopping centres.  Whilst footfall in shopping centres across the UK declined by -2.4% in June, in the largest centres of more than half a million sq ft the drop was just -0.5%, and only -0.1% in those largest centres with a strong dining offer.  So it is clear that consumer demand is polarised between convenience and accessibility provided so effectively by retail parks, and consumers’ craving for experience, driving them towards larger retail destinations.”

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Footfall increases in the run up to Christmas, but remains down YoY

Retail footfall is rising from week to week in the run up to Christmas, increasing by +3.1% last week from the week before, according to Springboard.

However, despite being higher week-on-week, footfall is significantly reduced from last year, with an annual decline of -4.5%.

Springboard data says that in High Streets and shopping centres – which make up the majority of destinations – the drop in footfall was even more severe at -5.2%, with a lesser drop of -2.2% in retail parks.

Footfall was down annually on every day last week apart from Sunday, when it rose by a huge +26.3%. However, Springboard says this was in comparison with Sunday last year when the weather was extremely cold with treacherous travelling conditions.

The results are a continuation of the poor performance in November and in the first two weeks of the month, and are a clear indicator that consumers are railing back on spending.

Whilst some of the trips previously made to bricks and mortar stores are likely to have been diverted online, the vast majority of spending remains in store; and so the significant decline in footfall is clear evidence that spending this year is constrained.

This conclusion, says Springboard, is reinforced by the fact that footfall declined in all areas apart from Northern Ireland, and was in excess of -2% in every UK geography and more than -5% in five geographies.

July food and online sales boosted by World Cup and heatwave

The overall quantity of goods bought through all kinds of retail outlets increased by 0.7% in July compared with the previous month, recovering from a decrease of 0.5% in June 2018.

When compared with the same month a year earlier, the quantity bought in July 2018 increased by 3.5% when compared with the slower growth of 1.1% in July 2017.

The latest figures from the ONS also show the quantity bought in non-store retailing showed strong growth both on the month and year-on-year, at 4.9% and 16.9% respectively.

Feedback from non-store retailers suggested that online promotions further encouraged sales, while non-food stores reported a reduction in footfall in July 2018.

Spending online continued to increase to reach a new record proportion of all retailing at 18.2% in July 2018; with strong growth in department stores also reaching a record proportion at 18.2%.

Office for National Statistics senior statistician, Rhian Murphy said: “Many consumers stayed away from some high street stores in July, but online sales were very strong, supported by several retailers launching promotions. Food sales remained robust as people continued to enjoy the World Cup and the sunshine.”

UK retail sales rally slightly in April

New figures from the Office of National Statistics have revealed that UK retail sales lifted slightly in April, reversing the decline that was witnessed in March.

As the High Street suffers store closures, troubled UK retail veterans and more, the news has provided a glimmer of hope for the sector. Key highlights of the ONS report include:

  • In April 2018, the quantity of goods bought in the retail industry remained relatively flat with a slight increase of 0.1% in the three-month on three-month movement.
  • When compared with March 2018, the quantity bought in April increased by 1.6% as all sectors, excluding department stores, recovered from the declines seen in March.
  • Department stores showed a different monthly picture to all other sectors as the only sector to report a fall in quantities bought, at negative 0.9% in April following strong online sales in March.
  • Petrol sales reported the largest recovery in April, with a growth of 4.7% compared with a decline of negative 6.9% in the previous month as road closures affected travel in March.
  • Removing the monthly volatility, the combined two months of March and April compared with the same periods a year earlier showed a general slowdown to growth at 1.3% for March and April 2018 when compared with 2.9% for March and April 2017.
  • Online sales as a proportion of all retailing continued to grow year-on-year at 17.3% in April 2018, in comparison with 16.1% in April 2017; with food and clothing stores achieving record online proportions.

Commenting on the figures, Rob Kent-Smith, Head of National Accounts at the ONS said: “Retail sales bounced back in April, as petrol and other sales recovered from the snowfall. But the underlying position remains subdued with the volume of goods sold over the last six months broadly unchanged.

“Increases were seen across all sectors in April, except department stores. Department stores declined following relatively strong sales last month, when their online sales were boosted during the adverse weather.

“Over the longer-term, retail sales growth has slowed considerably, with increases in food, household goods and internet retailers being largely offset by declines across all other types of retailing.”

No spring in step for UK retail footfall in March as cold weather bites

Latest figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) indicate that year-on-year footfall in March decreased by 6.0 per cent, a substantial decline compared to the positive rate of 1.3 per cent seen for March 2017 and the steepest year on year fall since the end of 2010.

The 12-month average is -1.4 per cent, while there was no growth in footfall for any UK regions – the most notable declines (year-on-year) were seen in Greater London (-7.5 per cent), South East (-6.5 per cent) and in the East Midlands (-5.6 per cent).

Growth fell in all shopping destinations too – High Streets saw a decline of 8.6 per cent, retail parks of 1.8 per cent and shopping centres of 4.8 per cent.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive at  the British Retail Consortium, said: “Whilst the prolonged period of bad weather has had an impact on shoppers visiting the high street, we are seeing a longer term trend of reduced footfall which highlights that shoppers face more choice in terms of how, where and when they shop. The retail environment is changing and retailers are investing in innovation and technology adaptations in response to this. Policy-makers must also play their part with a vision for a modern business taxation system which reflects this new environment.”

Diane Wehrle, Springboard Marketing and Insights Director, said: “The severe weather put paid to any glimmer of hope for an uplift in shopper activity in March. Hitting the week following the pay day weekend was the worst timing possible as it meant that shoppers who had available budget deferred trips. A proportion of this was made up over Easter, with footfall in shopping centres and retail parks rising from last Easter but this was more than offset by the impact of the heavy rain on high streets. Indeed, throughout the month we were able to track the impact on footfall each day as adverse weather moved across the UK

“Comparing the weekly trend with annual change in footfall enables us to see the fundamentals underlying shopper activity. So whilst footfall was hit hard in the first week of the month, declining by -17.1% from the week before, it bounced back, rising by +25.5% in the second week and by an average of +2.3% over the month, demonstrating that deferred trips were reinstated when the weather improved.

“But the bounce back was based on a reduced shopper pool compared with last year, with the significant annual decline of -6% over the month demonstrating that there is reduced shopper activity this year than in 2017. This is undoubtedly a function of low consumer confidence arising from ongoing economic constraints attached to current price inflation and concern for the future, exacerbated by the underlying structural shift in consumer habits away from purely transaction based activity towards activity with a leisure focus.”

Shopping Mall

Retail Parks see increased footfall, but High Streets & shopping centres down

Latest figures have revealed that total UK shopper footfall dropped by 1.6 per cent year-on-year in January.

The British Retail Consortium & Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor also revealed that all regions saw a drop in footfall in January, with the sharpest declines seen in Scotland (4.6%), the South West (2.6%) and the East (2.5%).

High Street footfall fell by 1.9% in January, a deeper decline than seen the same month a year ago. However, footfall in Retail Parks grew by 0.9%, but Shopping Centre footfall fell by 3.1%.

Meanwhile, the national town centre vacancy rate was 8.9% in January, down from 9.3% in October 2017.

“January painted a picture of divided fortunes with a slight improvement in town vacancy rates but decline in shopper footfall, said the British Retail Consortium’s chief executive Helen Dickinson OBE. “The latter fell in line with the underlying trend of reduced customer activity in shopping destinations, compounded by the squeeze on discretionary spending. Meanwhile retail sales continue to be buoyed by inflation, masking the lack of real growth.

“The more positive picture for vacancy rates over the last quarter is marginal. The Christmas trading period traditionally sees a boost in temporary lets, as landlords get creative with the flexible use of space to create pop-ups. This was particularly evident in London this year due to its denser physical retail offer. The long term trend is that vacancies remain stubbornly at around 9 per cent, albeit much higher in many areas.

“If we look beyond the seasonal distortion, the pressures to rationalise and downsize store portfolios are continuing to build as structural and technological change gains momentum. Given that planning applications for new shops have fallen for the ninth year in a row, the mounting cost of property taxation will inevitably mean more empty shops on the high street.

“Retailing is about digital and face to face interactions with customers and how the different channels complement each other. Having a business tax system that works to support that, not undermine it, is what the country needs and what we remain committed to work in partnership with Government to deliver.”

Diane Wehrle, Springboard Marketing and Insights Director, added: “A drop in footfall of -1.6% is an improvement on December’s -3.5%, but it is the worst result for January since 2013.  So it is clear that the challenges facing bricks and mortar retailing are continuing to build – the -1.9% decline in high street footfall is more than double the -0.8% in January 2017 and shopping centre footfall continues to languish at -3.1% following a drop of -3% in January last year.

“In contrast activity in retail parks continues to grow, with a shift in footfall from -0.4% in January 2017 to +0.9% this January; despite furniture and household appliance sales in January being the worst of all 13 categories.  Retail parks clearly now fulfil a wider role for shoppers; yes, they are convenient and functional shopping locations, but are buoyed by the continuing growth in online spending. Not only are they efficient click and collect points, but their attraction is enhanced by a wider offer, embracing hospitality. Herein lies the lesson for stores in urban locations of high streets and shopping centres; their longevity is contingent upon their ability to embrace all steps of consumers’ path to purchase, which implicitly necessitates a first class click and collect experience.

“Whilst footfall dropped, the vacancy rate strengthened over the quarter to 8.9% from 9.3% in October, but caution is needed in reading too much into this as it reflects short term occupier demand in the lead up to Christmas and is a trend that replicates previous years.”

New figures reveal 2017 retail footfall ends on a slump

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.”

April retail footfall boosted by Easter shopping

Figures released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Springboard Footfall & Vacancies Monitor revealed a 1.6% growth in footfall in April compared to 2016, above the average three-month growth of 0.7% and the fastest growth month in shopper numbers for three years.

The news comes after a difficult March trading period, which saw retail sales drop 1.0% from March 2016.

The April figures mark the first positive quarter since May 2014, with consumer spending dropping in the 10 months since Britain voted for Brexit and the average consumer feeling the impacts of rising inflation. However, the April figure is likely to be distorted due to the late timing of Easter this year.

“As expected, the Easter holidays provided the welcome boost to retail sales, which goes some way to making up for the disappointing start to the year,” Helen Dickinson, the BRC’s chief executive said.

“The inclusion of the holidays in this period will have distorted this figure but even looking beyond this, the picture over the last quarter has been largely positive.”

Paul Lewis, senior director of marketing at Voucher Codes and RetailMeNot urged retailers to take a smart approach to counter strenuous trading conditions for consumers and make the most of the bank holiday at the end of the month by ensuring digital and physical work together to increase overall sales figures.

“Last year, VoucherCodes.co.uk, part of RetailMeNot discovered that mobile devices unlocked £200 million sales in-store, therefore as we get closer to the May half term and Summer holidays, retailers could be expecting a busy shopping weekend on the high street,” commented Lewis.

“Shopping is no longer divided into the plain and simple clicks vs bricks – the lines are blurred now more than ever and consumers expect to switch between the two experiences seamlessly.

“Shoppers want to investigate competitor prices, check stock location and read consumer reviews all whilst standing right there within the store.”

BRC: Footfall declines but shoppers still spending…

According to the British Retail Consortium‘s (BRC) latest ‘BRC-Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor’ for the five weeks between August 28 and October 1, total footfall for the month of September fell by 0.9 per cent compared to the previous 12 months; a return to the decline in footfall seen before the 0.1 per cent increase experienced in August.

The research found that footfall in retail park locations was also ‘broadly flat’ in September, worse than the 0.4 per cent rise in August, and footfall in shopping centres fell 2.5 per cent in September, a further fall from the 1.9 per cent drop in August and is below the three-month average of -2.1 per cent.

Chief executive at BRC, Helen Dickinson OBE said: “Total footfall was fractionally down this month with almost one per cent fewer people heading out to shopping locations across the UK. At the same time as both footfall and shop prices have fallen year-on-year, retail spending grew in September by 1.3 per cent. This is a function of the changing face of retail and the hard work and innovation of British retail businesses who are responding brilliantly to technological advances and changing consumer habits.”