Black Friday fails to boost footfall

Total UK footfall fell by 15.7% in November on the same month in 2019 as the harsh weather deterred some customers from shopping in stores.

Josie Clarke
Friday 03 December 2021 00:01
Shoppers on Oxford Street in London, on Black Friday. Picture date: Friday November 26, 2021.
Shoppers on Oxford Street in London, on Black Friday. Picture date: Friday November 26, 2021.

Black Friday failed to boost high street footfall despite a resurgence in consumer confidence and bricks-and-mortar shopping, figures show.

Total UK footfall fell by 15.7% in November on the same month in 2019 as the harsh weather deterred some customers from shopping in stores, according to BRC-Sensormatic IQ data.

However it was still comparatively strong at the second highest figure for this year, only second to October.

Source: BRC-Sensormatic IQ

London also started to catch up with other major cities as the Christmas lights and markets kicked off the festive season, whilst Northern Ireland consumers benefited from the high street voucher system.

Footfall on high streets declined by 19.6% on two years ago, 1.3 percentage points below last month’s rate and above the three-month average decline of 20.3%.

Retail parks saw footfall decrease by 4.1% on November 2019, 3.7 percentage points below last month’s rate and below the three-month average decline of 2%.

Black Friday itself saw a decline of 23.4% on 2019, but footfall was still 35.3% higher than the previous weekend.

This month’s footfall was still comparatively strong at the second highest figure for this year, only second to October

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson

British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “While footfall over the Black Friday weekend failed to match its 2019 levels, this year saw deals spread over the entire month, allowing customers to bargain hunt over a prolonged period.

“Nevertheless, this month’s footfall was still comparatively strong at the second highest figure for this year, only second to October.”

Andy Sumpter, from Sensormatic Solutions, said: “Usually, in November we’d expect to see a boost to the high street due to Black Friday, which traditionally marks the start of Christmas spending.

“However, whilst we saw footfall rise by a third week-on-week, shopper numbers on Black Friday were still down on pre-pandemic levels by about a fifth, which maybe down to polarised flux in Christmas shopping behaviours we’re witnessing.”

Meanwhile, BDO’s November High Street Sales Tracker shows retail sales recorded a ninth month of consecutive growth, with like-for-like sales in the fashion sector particularly strong.

Total like-for-like sales in-store and online were up 32.1% on last year, with fashion sales up 51.3%.

However, BDO warned that the crisis in the supply chain and ongoing workforce issues would continue to challenge retailers.

Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said: “There’s a danger that the new Omicron variant, combined with worries around the rising cost of living, could knock consumer confidence and reduce footfall in the last few crucial weeks before Christmas.”

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