The freezing weather conditions predicted for Easter Weekend across the UK could alter otherwise positive prospects for footfall and retailing over Easter. While early forecasts did suggest that Easter Weekend would meet expectations as the most anticipated weekend for retail after Christmas – with an increase of +2.4% in footfall compared to the same trading period last year – if snow and ice were to return evidence from the previous two “Beasts” shows that footfall could drop by as much as -15% from last year.
The forecast comes following Springboard’s announcement that the -0.5% decrease in UK retail footfall in February was less than a third of that recorded in January and lower that the 12 month average of -0.7%, providing some good news in the face of the trading challenges for retailers reported recently.
Springboard insights director, Diane Wehrle, says: “Over the week of the first “Beast from the East” (wb 25th Feb) footfall declined by -16.6% across all retail destinations, and on the worst hit days by as much as -36% (Thursday 1st March), averaging -28% over the three days (Thursday to Saturday).And unfortunately, this does not mean that online spending will rise, as experience from the first “Beast” demonstrated that traffic delays as a consequence of snow and ice led to online transactions declining by -0.7%. Indeed, Ocado has just revealed that it led to a loss of -1% in sales due to having to cancel online orders”.
With normal weather conditions, however, Springboard is forecasting that footfall in retail destinations over the Easter weekend could be +2.4% higher than over the Easter weekend in 2017.
Wehrle says: “With normal weather Easter Weekend footfall is anticipated to increase due to a range of factors including the timing of national payday before Easter, the milder weather following recent periods of adverse weather, the ongoing demand for leisure oriented trips and the bounce back in footfall in February from December and January.
“The timing of national payday before Easter Weekend in 2018 means that households are likely to have some discretionary spending budget available that will not yet have been spent or allocated.
“Recent adverse weather may have resulted in consumers deferring or cancelling shopping trips, while also delaying household spending on garden products and home improvements. If the weather remains mild this Easter Weekend, consumers may reinstate cancelled trips for the Easter weekend and are likely to visit garden centres and furniture outlets to refresh homes and gardens, and to fashion stores to browse spring ranges.”
“The now established demand for eating out and hospitality will mean that families are likely to combine shopping trips with visits to coffee shops, restaurants and even leisure facilities this Easter Weekend. A number of hospitality operators are facing trading challenges and increased competition, however, the combination of these two factors is driving discounting and offers, making it even more economic for consumers to eat out.
Springboard believes online shopping will complement bricks and mortar shopping this Easter Weekend.
Wehrle says: “The family and friend focus of Easter, the opportunity to refresh homes and gardens and the demand for experiences suggest that online shopping is likely to follow on from consumers’ visits to bricks and mortar stores, where they will have chosen the goods they want to purchase.”
Despite a poor performance over December and January, footfall only declined by -0.5% in February, which is less than the 12 month average of -0.7% and the -1% in February last year; suggesting that some consumers are once again making trips to bricks and mortar destinations.
Easter weekend UK retail footfall forecast
|Easter Weekend (Fri, Sat, Mon) – Year on Year % change in Footfall|
|High Streets||Out-of-town||Shopping Centres||UK Footfall (Springboard Index)|
|Forecast for 2018||2.0%||3.1%||2.4%||2.4%|
|Year on Year % Change in Footfall – Easter 2018|
|High Street||Out-of-town||Shopping Centre||UK Footfall|
|Good Friday – 30th March||3.0%||4.0%||4.0%||3.5%|
|Easter Saturday – 31st March||2.0%||3.0%||2.0%||2.2%|
|Easter Monday – 2nd April||1.0%||2.0%||1.0%||1.2%|
|Easter Sunday – 1st April||2.0%|