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In-store and online shopping set to rise this Easter weekend – unless there’s a return for the Beast from the East

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Visitor numbers in store are likely to show a recovery this Easter weekend – unless there’s a return of freezing conditions seen earlier this month, according to Springboard. The analyst says that any boost to footfall is likely to go hand-in-hand with shopping online.

Springboard expects that footfall over the coming weekend could be 2.4% higher than in Easter 2017 – but that could fall back by as much as -15% if there’s a return of the ‘Beast from the East’ weather conditions seen in February and March. At the same time, it predicts, store visits are likely to operate alongside online shopping. And even if footfall does rise by 2.4%, it would still remain lower than in Easter 2015, after falls of around 2% in both 2016 and 2017.

Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said: “The family and friends focus of Easter, the opportunity to refresh homes and gardens and the demand for experiences suggest that online shopping is likely to follow on from consumers’ visits to bricks and mortar stores, where they will have chosen the goods they want to purchase.”

The prediction comes after footfall fell by 0.5% in February. That’s less than a third of the drop recorded in January and better than the 12 month average of -0.7%.

Wehrle said: “Over the week of the first ‘Beast from the East’ (w/c Feb 25) footfall declined by -16.6% across all retail destinations, and on the worst hit days by as much as -36% (Thursday 1st March), averaging -28% over the three days (Thursday to Saturday).And unfortunately, this does not mean that online spending will rise, as experience from the first ‘Beast’ demonstrated that traffic delays as a consequence of snow and ice led to online transactions declining by -0.7%. Indeed, Ocado has just revealed that it led to a loss of -1% in sales due to having to cancel online orders.”

With normal weather conditions, however, Springboard is forecasting that footfall in retail destinations over the Easter weekend could be +2.4% higher than over the Easter weekend in 2017 thanks to factors including a payday before Easter, milder weather and rising demand for leisure-focused trips.

Wehrle said: “Recent adverse weather may have resulted in consumers deferring or cancelling shopping trips, while also delaying household spending on garden products and home improvements. If the weather remains mild this Easter Weekend, consumers may reinstate cancelled trips for the Easter weekend and are likely to visit garden centres and furniture outlets to refresh homes and gardens, and to fashion stores to browse Spring ranges.”

She added: “The now established demand for eating out and hospitality will mean that families are likely to combine shopping trips with visits to coffee shops, restaurants and even leisure facilities this Easter Weekend. A number of hospitality operators are facing trading challenges and increased competition, however, the combination of these two factors is driving discounting and offers, making it even more economic for consumers to eat out.”

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