Shopper numbers increased in all three destination types (shopping centres, high streets and retail parks) with shopping centres faring the best, with an increase in footfall of +6.5% as shoppers looked to make the most of the high concentration of Black Friday discounts.
Springboard said: ‘It was thought that Brexit uncertainty and low consumer confidence would impact Black Friday this year. But it seems that shoppers have been increasingly keen to snap up bargains early in advance of Christmas. This may well have been supported by the fact that Black Friday fell on payday, providing consumers with a little more leeway to make the most of bargain hunting.
‘The other key factor in driving an uplift in footfall is consumer demand for combining shopping with leisure and eating out, rather than just purely visiting destinations to make transactions. This is illustrated by the fact that footfall increased as the day progressed: by +1.9% up to 12pm, by +3.7% by 3pm, by +3.9% by 5pm and by +1.5% post-5pm (when many stores are shut).’
Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, commented: “This positive result may well ‘seal the deal’ for retailers in terms of their commitment to Black Friday moving forward, as they will have claimed shoppers early on in the Christmas trading period, giving them the opportunity to steal a march on their rivals.”
Given the enthusiasm that shoppers have shown towards Black Friday, Springboard anticipates a corresponding impact on the Christmas trading period, with a lull in footfall over the next couple of weeks as shoppers delay further significant purchases until immediately before Christmas in an effort to make the most of last minute discounting.
Springboard said: ‘Footfall has declined in December in every year since 2012, and in all but one year since 2009, so it is unlikely to break the long term trend and increase this year.
‘However, compared with last year, we forecast that footfall over the Christmas trading period from Sunday December 24 to Saturday December 28 will decline by -1.5% from the same five week period last year. This is an improvement on the -2.6% drop in footfall last year and reflects the positive impact that Black Friday had on last week’s footfall, which was the first week of the month.
Springboard expects the busiest trading day before Christmas to be Saturday December 21. Last year, Saturday December 22 had higher footfall than any bank holiday or key trading day over the year and, despite the +3.3% rise in footfall on Black Friday, Springboard predicts footfall will exceed this figure this year.
Post-Christmas Springboard expects that footfall on December 27, December 28 and December 29 will be higher than on Boxing Day, which historically is the key sales day. In 2018, footfall on each of these three days was a third higher than on Boxing Day, as many consumers now initially search for bargains online before venturing to the stores.
Springboard tracks and forecasts footfall throughout the UK, recording over 70 million footfall counts per week at 4,500 counting locations across 450 different shopping sites in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Springboard Insights Director Diane Wehrle