The Boxing Day sales have failed to lure festive shoppers from their homes, with footfall down by 4.5% from the same time in 2016. The news follows a disappointing Black Friday, in which 3.6% fewer people than last year hit the stores. However, the bigger picture suggests that there’s scope for optimism about spending trends once online purchases are factored in.
High street challenge
Footfall stats from retail experts Springboard fell to their lowest levels since records began in 2012, capping a worrying Christmas sales period in which footfall dropped across all bricks and mortar retailers. In retail parks, the number of visiting shoppers was down by 2.1% and in shopping centres the fall was 3.5%. High streets were the worst hit, with a decline of 5.9%.
The numbers suggest that consumers have been put off by the length of discounting periods over the course of the season, which lessens the impact of reductions. Commentators also note that the competition from Black Friday has diluted the influence of the more traditional UK Boxing Day sales as a key trading day in the retail calendar.
Online sales strengthen
In contrast, figures from Barclaycard suggest online activity boosted Black Friday sales to levels 8% above those seen last year – and drove overall November sales to a 1.1% rise. This trend was mirrored by the Boxing Day sales, when internet purchases surpassed both overall spending and growth rates for 2016.
The news is a timely reminder of the importance of an internet presence. With footfall down, traditional seasonal displays and discounting spells no longer hold the sway they once did, while e-commerce is going from strength to strength.
Continued caution necessary
It’s also important to note that the total increases registered by many observers are not a conclusive sign of rising consumer activity. Visa was a dissenting voice, suggesting spending was down 0.9% in November – and economists warn that changing habits could yet result in lower spending in January.
With that in mind, retailers must retain their focus on maintaining a steady cash flow. That means continuing to press for improved relationships with landlords and suppliers and ensuring that large debts are recouped in an efficient and timely manner. For information about how Dukes Bailiffs can help, contact one of our operators today.