Footfall drops across all destinations in Wales over festive break

Footfall in Wales fell by 1.3% year-on-year in December, according to the Welsh Retail Consortium (WRC)-Springboard.

Covering the five weeks from November 27 to December 31, the WRC-Springboard’s footfall and vacancies monitor reported that the statistic was slightly above the three-month average of -1.4%, but below the 12-month average of -0.1%

WRC head of policy & external affairs Sara Jones said: “It was another disappointing month for Welsh shops. It wasn’t just our high streets which saw a decline but all shopping destinations including retail parks and shopping centres, with Wales being the only nation or region that saw a drop across all three locations.

She continued: “A major challenge for retailers is adapting and responding to the huge structural changes that are impacting on the retail industry at a faster pace than ever before.

“We need to ensure that policy makers are aware of these changes and are sensitive to them when making decisions – and we ask that the Welsh government adopt a retail strategy for Wales to support this process.

“As Wales’ largest private sector employer, retail has a fundamental role in supporting the well-being of our communities across the nation. It is in everyone’s interest to see a supportive business environment, which takes account of the changing retail operating landscape.”

Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle added: “The final result of a drop in footfall in Wales of just -1.3% in December compared with -3.4% in December 2015 was more positive than the results for key trading days over Christmas led us to believe it would be.

“The month began just after Black Friday, which is now generating a similar level of in-store spend to Boxing Day – and so is clearly bringing forward shopping that, in the past, took place during December.

“This, together with the fact that Christmas Day fell at the end of the fourth trading week, meant shoppers deferred purchases in order to snap up any additional discounts –demonstrated by the fact that footfall remained virtually flat until the third week of the month.

“Also evident is the fact that the availability of discounts throughout December is subduing the significance of our traditional sale days of Boxing Day and New Year’s Day for bricks and mortar trips.

“The -0.9% drop in high street footfall in Wales in December – which concluded a year when high street footfall moved from -2.7% between January and December in 2015 to +0.3% in 2016 – suggests that the supposition of the death of the high street has been greatly exaggerated.”

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