Delivery issues to drive footfall in Christmas retail, but drive Black Friday shopping up

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Traffic is forecast to decline during an important six weeks leading up to Christmas. (PA)

Footfall in all UK retail destinations is forecast to decline during the “crucial” six-week Christmas trading period – but increase during Black Friday sales – as consumers worry about delivery issues and decide to shop earlier this year.

Consumers are aware that a labor shortage, particularly among truck drivers, has led to a gasoline crisis in the country and major supply chain problems for many sectors.

Because of this, they’ll be looking to do their shopping earlier than usual – probably in early November – to grab the gifts they want, according to Springboard, a retail store insider provider.

“The ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the supply problem related to the truck driver shortage that has already impacted grocery store inventories and led to the recent fuel crisis, will unfortunately create further problems for bricks. and mortar merchants during the holiday season, ”said Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard.

She added that the end of the vacation program and an increase in energy prices are likely to “further dampen footfall as household spending on Christmas gifts is limited”.

Springboard has forecast that between November 21 and January 4, retail frequency will be an average of 17% lower than in 2019, before the pandemic broke out. This continues with a 17.4% decrease in customer frequency on the current path recorded in September 2021.

The decline is expected to be driven by major streets and shopping malls.

In the meantime, pedestrian frequency in retail parks has been resilient throughout the pandemic and will be an average of 5.5% higher than 2019 over the six weeks.

Continue reading: UK High Streets are crowded as confidence returns

It gets particularly strong in the last two weeks of the Christmas trade, when the British do their pre-Christmas grocery shopping.

The boom for retail parks “will likely be due to shoppers going to bigger stores that feel safe, but that also offer a wide range of products that are easy to get to with free parking, and many of which are convenient click- and collect facilities “. “, Said Wehrle.

Black Friday week is expected to become popular with a 7.9% increase in footfall “as shoppers take advantage of widespread discounts to visit stores to ensure they get the gifts they want “.

This is more than the average footfall increase for the week, which was 5.1% between 2014 and 2019 and 1.7% in 2018 and 2019.

Meanwhile, traffic to major city centers will surge over the six-week holiday season, overtaking smaller shopping streets “as consumers look for that Christmas shopping experience they missed last year,” the report said.

The customer frequency in Great Britain is expected to continue to increase into the week of Christmas, with an increase of 6.5% compared to the previous week.

“As Christmas Day falls on a weekend this year, it offers a longer final week of trading, which allows consumers to shop in-store in the immediate days leading up to Christmas when online purchases cannot always be guaranteed to be delivered on time . ”Springboard said.

The number of visitors on Boxing Day has decreased every year since 2016 and fell by 8.6% in 2019 compared to Boxing Day a year earlier.

This is unlikely to change this year as not only is visitor frequency generally lower on Sundays due to reduced opening hours, but several leading retailers have already announced that they will be closing, meaning consumers will postpone travel and join the day the family will spend.

In the week after Christmas, pedestrian frequency in the shopping streets and shopping centers will fall by around 20% in line with the trend of the last decade.

However, the need to replenish groceries after Boxing Day, combined with discounts, will continue to lead to increased customer frequency in retail parks.

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