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

Footfall across the UK’s retail destinations dropped by more than a quarter in the week after Christmas compared with the week before, figures show.

Retail expert Springboard said footfall last week was 27.7% lower than the week before, and 19.7% down on the same week in 2019.

It was just 7.2% higher than the same week in 2021 when the country was still experiencing the impact of coronavirus restrictions.

However, Springboard said a large part of the difference was due to last week beginning on Christmas Day (Sunday), when footfall is at its lowest, whereas the year before it began on Boxing Day.

Retail footfall in Scotland
The end of 2022 saw a spike in footfall on Boxing Day (Jane Barlow/PA)

The end of 2022 saw a spike in footfall on Boxing Day when footfall was 38.8% 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% higher in 2022.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: “Not surprisingly, footfall across UK retail destinations during the week of Christmas was significantly lower than in the week before that in the final trading week.

“Footfall was higher than in the same week last year, but not significantly, despite Christmas 2021 being overshadowed by Covid. A key factor here is the offset of Christmas which meant that last week began on Christmas Day – when footfall is at its lowest – whilst in 2021 the week began on Boxing Day when many stores were open and trading.

“In 2019 – the last Christmas before Covid-19 – the offset is even greater, with Christmas Day falling part way through the week before and week 52 commencing on 29 December 2019.

“The week began strongly with footfall on Boxing Day 2022 higher than in 2021, although some of this gain would have been due to Boxing Day 2022 falling on a Monday vs a Sunday in 2021 when trading hours were more limited.

“In addition to this, a number of stores remained closed on Boxing Day in 2021 and the impact of Covid on people’s willingness to make trips was being felt.

“What is significant – and what has been an emerging trend for several years – is that footfall on 27 December 2022 was higher than on Boxing Day.

“Furthermore, footfall rose further on the following two days, peaking on 29 December, with the first decline from the day before occurring on 30 December, which then continued into New Year’s Eve 2022.

“This demonstrates that whilst Boxing Day is somewhat of a marker in the annual retail calendar, the key dates for retail spending are now the subsequent days when consumers are likely to have completed visits with family and friends and have time to make trips out.”

She said that the only day in the week after Christmas when footfall was higher in 2022 was December 29, which fell on a Thursday last week rather than a Sunday in 2019.

Ms Wehrle added that footfall figures over Christmas had been “very positive”.

“I do think it was very positive,” she said.

“People were very concerned about Christmas, and it was muted,” she said.

“Our forecast of an increase over the month was muted, but actually given where we are with the cost of living crisis and given where we are with the strain on household budgets, what footfall was showing is that people were prepared to go out and spend money and visit retail destinations – either to buy retail products or to go to a restaurant or bar.”