Strength of Christmas as ‘major retail trading period’ weakened as footfall declined in 2018

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It has in the past been the most wonderful time of the year for retailers but it seems the high street has once again taken a hit during the festive season.

Christmas no longer represents a “major trading period” for our stores as footfall continued to decline in December, according to the latest BRC/Springboard Retail Footfall Monitor figures.

In the five-week period between November 25 and December 29, there was a 2.6% drop in total retail footfall on a year before, marking the 13th consecutive month of annual decline following a 3.2% decrease recorded in November.

However, the decline was not as bad Springboard’s own prior forecast. It had expected footfall to step down by 4.2%. It also was a smaller annual decline than seen in the same period of 2017, when retail footfall dropped 3.5%.

“The 2.6% decline in footfall in December 2018 – the ninth in 10 years, and the seventh consecutive year of decline – is undeniably strong evidence that retailers can no longer rely on Christmas trading to redeem revenue lost earlier in the year,” Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, said.

She added: “If nothing else is learnt from December 2018, it is that discounting does not stimulate customer activity, and is severely eroding the strength of Christmas as a major trading period.”

On the high street in city centres footfall fell by 2.1% on the prior year’s December, marking five consecutive months of annual decline.

Retail parks saw footfall down 2.1%, while shopping centres recorded a 3.9% drop.

However, some businesses saw an increase in sales during the festive season.

ProCook Chesterfield store Christmas 2018

Gloucester-headquartered kitchenware retailer ProCook is reporting headline sales growth of 21 per cent on the six weeks of peak trading leading up to the 31st December. You can read more on the ProCook figures here.