Festive footfall in city centre slumped despite ‘many activities’ on offer

Christmas 2022: Festive footfall dropped in Southampton <i>(Image: Stuart Martin)</i>
Christmas 2022: Festive footfall dropped in Southampton (Image: Stuart Martin)

Festive footfall slumped in the city centre in December despite the arrival of a new Christmas market.

Figures from GO! Southampton, the city’s Business Improvement District (BID), revealed how Christmas in Southampton was not as merry or bright as anticipated.

The city centre narrowly avoided missing a no Christmas market scenario after the previous organisers pulled out last minute.

Luckily, S&D Leisure stepped in but footfall figures were still lower than in 2021.

The figures in full

According to the BID’s footfall sensors:

  • Footfall in December was down by seven per cent compared to November 2022.

  • Footfall was about 16 per cent down compared to December 2021.

  • The busiest day in December was Tuesday 20th with 20,336 visitors, of which 2,557 (13 per cent) were new visitors.

Note: The sensors do not cover footfall in areas such as the Marlands, Westquay, and IKEA.

Daily Echo:
Daily Echo:

READ MORE: Southampton’s Christmas market is BACK – and this is what we thought

Stephen Manion, executive director of GO! Southampton, said the cost-of-living crisis presented challenges last Christmas.

He said: “This Christmas had the challenges of the cost-of-living crisis which, although different to the immediate effects of the pandemic, will have had an impact on our city centre’s footfall, along with some days of very inclement weather.”

Despite the concerns surrounding the figures, Mr Manion said he is “encouraged” by the various festive events, from the Countdown to Christmas to the ice rink, which “attracted residents and visitors who were new to the city”.

He added: “We will not know the full impact, particularly in retail and hospitality, until we analyse the spend in shops, restaurants and bars.

“These businesses have demonstrated resolve and resilience in these adverse economic conditions and GO! Southampton will continue to support them during 2023.”

'A great Christmas'

This thought was echoed by leader of the council, Cllr Satvir Kaur.

She said: “It was obviously a shock when the previous Christmas Market operator told us at short notice that they would not be coming to the city as planned.

“This didn’t leave us much time to find an alternative, but we were mindful that there were many local independent traders booked onto that market and we wanted to support them.

“We were thankful that we were able to appoint a new operator who delivered a good alternative in very little time.

“This alongside the ice rink at Westquay, pantomimes, cultural offerings in museums and many other activities across the city all contributed to a great Christmas despite tough economic conditions, with something for everyone; attracting tens of thousands of visitors to our city.”

READ NEXT: Retail footfall drops by more than a quarter in week after Christmas

Research from retail expert Springboard revealed the end of 2022 saw a spike in footfall on Boxing Day across the UK, when footfall was 38.8 per cent higher than in 2021.

The gap between the end of 2021 and 2022 was at its narrowest on New Year’s Eve, with footfall just 1.9 per cent higher in 2022.

A message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this article - we appreciate your support in reading the Daily Echo.

Subscribing to the Echo means you have unrestricted access to the latest news, features and Saints coverage - all with an advertising-light website.

You will also have full access to Saintsplus, your new home for Southampton FC tactical analysis, features and much, much more.

Don't just take my word for it - subscribe today.

Follow the latest breaking news in the Southampton area by searching Southampton News - Breaking News and Incidents on Facebook

Follow the latest court and crime news on our dedicated group by searching Hampshire Court and Crime News on Facebook