Signs of an upbeat retail sector over the holiday season has received mixed reports. While some online stores have seen business booming, others, particularly in brick and mortar, saw a decline in shoppers.
Footfall data from retail intelligence analysts RetailNext Inc. shows in-store footfall in the UK on Boxing Day was down by -15.3 percent compared to pre-Covid levels while the Friday-Monday festive period experienced an -18.4 percent decline in traffic compared to 2019.
The UK was plagued by disruption, from public transport strikes to the NHS, with many councils urging people to stay home. With household spending conservative in the current crisis, it created a difficult trading environment for the sector.
The Boxing Day sales are traditionally a big draw for retailers and attract millions of shoppers across the UK, notes RetailNext. When compared to 2021, in-store footfall on Boxing Day was up by 55.1 percent while traffic for the Friday-Monday period climbed 30.9 percent.
Joe Shasteen, Global Manager, Advanced Analytics, commented: “After a challenging end to the year, a drop in footfall on Boxing Day compared to 2019 will be a blow for retailers across the UK. In the first festive period unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the sector would have been hoping for a bounce in footfall, but rail strikes and the cost of living crisis have compounded to create a hugely challenging time for retailers.”
“Despite the return to some kind of normality, which is reflected in the positive traffic trends against 2021, retailers have still had to contend with a huge amount of disruption over December. As the rising cost of living continues to impact the amount of discretionary spend for consumers, this perhaps highlights how important pricing and promotions will be over the next 12 months.”
Fashion and footwear retailers saw highest footfall
Store traffic in the South East and London reflected the smallest footfall decline on Boxing Day over 2019 (-8.0 percent), but was up year over year (61.2 percent) for the day. From a category perspective, Clothing and Shoes attracted the highest traffic on Boxing Day compared to 2019 (-6.3 percent), and was up almost 71 percent over last year.