Ipsos Retail Performance. Blog.

Heavy snow and Black Friday holds back shoppers

  • UK retail footfall fell -9.9% over the first three weeks of December.
  • Heavy snow on Sunday 10th December resulted in a -21% drop in national retail footfall against the previous week.
  • Much like last year, Black Friday discounting dragged a sizeable proportion of December’s shopping into November.

With less than one week to go before the turkey is carved, shoppers are yet to reach top gear. UK retail footfall figures delivered a disappointing start to December, with high street traffic down -9.9% year-on-year over the first three weeks of the month (26th November to 16th December).

Our Retail Traffic Index (RTI) is derived from the number of individual shoppers entering over 4,000 non-food retail stores across the UK.

The RTI reported that heavy snowfall across the country severely impacted on footfall on Sunday 10th December – with numbers across the UK as a whole down by -21% on the previous Sunday. The West Midlands and Eastern England were the areas worse affected by the weather, with footfall falling -57% and -39% respectively.

The footfall figures also highlighted the fortnight of Black Friday promotional activity in November pulled forward some seasonal shopping, throttling demand in the first three weeks of December.

“Whilst Black Friday wasn’t spectacular for retailers, it has had a significant knock-on effect to shopping activity in December,” commented Dr Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance.

“Widespread promotional activity and deep discounting hasn’t succeeded in pulling the usual numbers of shoppers into stores. We had anticipated a slow start, but we did expect the high street to be busier than it has been.

“The heavy snowfall will have done retailers no favours in kick-starting seasonal spending. Many people will have stayed at home and switched to shopping online, but a strong Christmas performance always relies on that festive spirit and bonhomie that is created in shops and shopping centres across the UK.”

Based on footfall levels over the first three weeks of the month, Ipsos Retail Performance has revised its footfall forecast from the month down from -2.1% to -6.7% against December 2016.

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