Springboard: footfall drops by just -0.1% last week, but looks can be deceiving

At first sight a very marginal drop in footfall of just -0.1% last week appears to be good news for retail destinations in what is coming up to the peak of the Christmas trading period. However, it is critical to remember that this result is off the back of huge drops in footfall in the same week last year when snow and ice swept the UK on Sunday shutting roads and transport hubs, creating difficulties until late in the week.  This comparison meant that the uplift from 2017 in the first part of last week was +26.3% on Sunday and +6.6% on Monday.  By late in the week, however, circumstances last year returned to normal and in comparison, this footfall dropped on Thursday, Friday and Saturday this year.  Footfall was particularly weak on Saturday this year due to the onset of Storm Deidre which brought driving rain to most of the country and snow in some parts. On Sunday footfall did partially recover, although still recording a decline in shopping centres.

Footfall performance varied across destination types over the week, with high streets and retail parks in positive territory, whilst in shopping centres footfall once again declined (by -1.8%) due to poorer results between Monday and Friday and on Sunday. Geographically, not all areas recorded footfall declines, with rises in four areas, albeit all of which were from the Midlands southwards.  Inevitably, footfall declined north of this, with the most significant decreases in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

We are forecasting that there will continue to be a decline in footfall over the next week from last year, which we expect to be -3.5% (a drop of -3.2% in high streets and -2.8% in retail parks and -4.8% in shopping centres).  This is broadly in line with the declines in footfall already seen in December this year and is significantly greater than the -1% drop in footfall in the same week last year. We are anticipating that the peak shopping day of the week will be Friday rather than Saturday when footfall will dip slightly.  This is a pattern that Springboard has recorded over a number of years when Christmas day is in the first half of the week as it is this year; consumers generally use the weekend as part of the Christmas break, for travelling and for visiting family and friends.

WB 09.12.2018
Year on YearWeek on Week
Footfall forecast for Week 51 (Year on Year % change in Footfall)
 Forecast for 2018Footfall in 2017
High Street Index-3.2%-1.2%
Retail Park Index-2.8%1.0%
Shopping Centre Index-4.8%-4.8%
Springboard Index-3.5%-1.0%
% change in Footfall by Day – Week 51 2017
 Sun 17th Dec to Mon 18th DecMon 18th Dec to Tues 19th DecTues 19th Dec to Wed 20th DecWed 20th Dec to Thurs 21st DecThurs 21st Dec to Fri 22nd DecFri 22nd Dec to Sat 23rd DecSat 23rd Dec to Sun 24th Dec
High Street Index8.4%-0.3%2.6%5.9%7.0%-5.8%-19.1%
Retail Park Index11.7%-1.2%3.5%3.2%9.2%-2.8%-19.1%
Shopping Centre Index10.2%-1.9%3.0%10.0%10.9%-0.6%-23.7%
Springboard Index9.6%-0.9%2.9%6.3%8.5%-3.8%-20.3%