The UK retail sector delivered a shock result on Black Friday and Saturday with visitor traffic defying expectations of a fall and online growing less than expected, footfall tracking specialist Springboard said on Sunday.
Friday, which is not a holiday in the UK, saw surprisingly strong footfall while for the first day of the ‘true’ weekend, Saturday, footfall suffered, perhaps as a result of consumers having switched their shopping activity to Friday.
Springboard said overall footfall rose 2% on Friday but fell 0.8% on Saturday. High streets saw 2.8% more people on Friday and 1.2% more on Saturday. But retail parks were up only 0.8% on Friday and down 1.3% on Saturday. Meanwhile shopping malls, which have the largest concentration of fashion stores, turned in the worst performance, rising only 1.4% on Friday but falling 4.4% the day after.
The footfall tracker also said that those malls saw their biggest decline during what should be their busiest period on Saturday with a 4.7% drop between 09:00 and 17:00, while for retail parks, Saturday evening was the quieter period.
The company also quoted data from PCA Predict that showed online transactions rose only 6.7% on Friday and 1.8% on Saturday. This was despite predictions that e-sales could rise up to 25% after a 31% rise in the corresponding period last year.
Springboard said the drop in footfall for malls reflects the fact the many retailers in these destinations are multiples which also have a strong online presence, “offering shoppers an opportunity to shop from the comfort of their sofa.”
It added that the underperformance of malls backed up its view that such locations need to provide more than just stores in order to give consumers a compelling reason to venture out.
It said malls need to appeal beyond pure retail and entice customers out with restaurants and opportunities for leisure such as cinemas, “which are now in greater demand as part of a shopping trip.”