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Retail Footfall Diminishes By Almost 10% Over Christmas

  • UK retail footfall was -9.6% lower in December compared to last year.
  • Footfall declined in the first week of December (compared to the previous week) for the first time since records began.
  • Footfall on Boxing Day was -5.1% quieter than 2016.
  • Thursday 28th December recorded the busiest shopping day of the year – but it was still -8.6% down year-on-year.

Retailers on the UK high street suffered a -9.6% depression in December footfall compared to 2016.

What does the Retail Traffic Index tell us about shopping before & after Christmas?

Ipsos Retail Performance, the global retail and footfall consultant, compiles the Retail Traffic Index (RTI), which is derived from the number of individual shoppers entering over 4,000 non-food retail stores across the UK.

December started badly, with footfall lower in the first week of the month than the previous week – the first time this has occurred since records began. Week-on-week, footfall continued to be subdued, with heavy snowfall keeping people off the high street and adding further misery onto retailers.

Following Christmas, the RTI reported that the sales got off to a slow start, with footfall on Boxing Day -5.1% quieter than in 2016. Numbers did swell in the following days, with Thursday 28th December delivering the busiest shopping day of the year, but it was still -8.6% down on last year.

“In the previous few years, shopping habits in the build-up to Christmas have structurally changed,” commented Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance.

“Discounting and promotional activity around Black Friday now stretch over a two-week period, pulling forward shopping into November that would normally be done in the run-up to Christmas and the winter sales immediately following.

“Online retailing has also fundamentally altered the way retailers now need to approach Christmas shopping. The promise of greater convenience meant that online shopping accounted for 24% of all non-food transactions in December 2016, and will have exceeded 1-in-5 transactions this year.”

The RTI reported that since 2015, December’s footfall in non-food stores has diminished by -18%. It remains the busiest shopping month of the year, with December 2017’s footfall +24.1% higher compared to November, though this is lower in comparison to the five year average of +31.2%.

Dr Denison continued:

“Early trading results show a mixed picture at this stage. Much will depend on how individual companies performed on-line. With footfall down heavily on last year, like-for-like increases in sales are going to be the exception rather than the rule.”

Our Christmas RTIs are available now to read – click on the links below to see how the UK performed throughout December:

Heavy snow and Black Friday holds back shoppers

Shoppers finally find their feet in the run-in to Christmas

Final weekend before Christmas brings some cheer to retailers

December sales deliver busiest shopping day of the year