Retail intelligence expert Springboard has forecast that Black Friday weekend will do little to help struggling retailers in what has been a challenging year of trading. Footfall across bricks and mortar retail destinations is anticipated to decline by -4.5% on Black Friday with High Streets being the hardest hit with a drop of -5.5%. This follows a decline in footfall on Black Friday over the past two years revealing the UK’s appetite for this pre-Christmas spending spree may be wavering.
Footfall declined by -5.4% and -3.6% in 2018 and 2017 respectively – this low comparable would usually lend itself favourably for this year. However, Springboard forecast that consumers are unlikely to make trips to stores to shop despite Black Friday falling a week later on payday weekend this year. The prevalence of discounting from retailers throughout the year, combined with the scepticism surrounding whether Black Friday discounts are better than those being offered generally, means that consumers are paying less attention to this period as a whole.
Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, commented: “For those who do choose to shop on Black Friday it seems that that the decision will be more about ensuring product availability in advance of Christmas rather than securing the lowest price!”
Consumers are aware that many discounts are increasingly made available online rather than in-store, therefore those who do want to shop may stay within the comforts of their home for convenience. However, Springboard do recognise that even spending online is likely to be muted over Black Friday; IMRG is forecasting a rise in online sales over the entire Black Friday period of just +2-3% but highlighted that there is a very real possibility that spending could be flat.
This dampening impact on footfall is compounded by the fact over the last six months footfall has been more suppressed than last year. From May to October footfall dropped by -2.4%, double the -1.2% drop over the same six months last year. High Streets have been particularly hard hit over the past six months, with footfall declining by -3.4% versus a drop of just -0.9% from May to October 2018. Footfall in shopping centres has continued to decline at virtually the same rate as last year (-2.8% versus -3% in 2018).
Wehrle added: “These results reflect the low confidence of consumers that has been impacting on their willingness to spend throughout the year. Consumers are increasingly favouring experience and leisure based trips over retail shopping. Given the ongoing uncertainty in the run up to the general election, this is unlikely to change over Black Friday weekend.”