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‘Panic Weekend’ drives 11.5% jump in high street footfall, data shows

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The latest insights from retail analysts MRI Software (previously Springboard) has shown that a ‘Panic Weekend’ helped drive an annual footfall rise of +11.5% on high streets, which is the most significant rise observed since the third week of July (week 23) this year.

Footfall rose by +6.5% last week from the week before across all destination types as high streets led the charge with a week on week rise in footfall of +7.9%. MRI Software are forecasting another busy week for retailers, predicting a +16.9% week on week rise this week as shoppers make their final preparations for Christmas.

Consumer activity rose each day last week from the week before with a particularly strong start to the week on Sunday and Monday averaging +11.8%. This continued throughout the week with a peak on Thursday (+13.6%) leading into a ‘Panic Weekend’ where high streets were the clear winners with footfall rising on Saturday by +7.3% week on week, and +12.4% year on year. High streets alone witnessed a rise of +9.6% over the weekend compared with the same time period in the week before.

The attraction of many festive markets and events taking place is reflected in a week on week rise in activity of +11.9% in regional cities outside of London especially North & Yorkshire and the West Midlands, both witnessing rises of +10.3% from the week before.

This coming week will see UK retail destinations witness another surge in footfall activity, in line with trends observed in previous years. As delivery times for online purchases dissipate during the peak Christmas trading week, consumers will turn to their local high streets, shopping centres or retail parks for those last-minute gifts and groceries, resulting in a significant rise in footfall from the week before.

Wednesday and Thursday are likely to be the peak shopping days this year with a week on week rise in footfall averaging 31% predicted over the two day period and is anticipated to be at least +7.3% higher than last year. This rise is expected ahead of what will be the key getaway days this year; Friday and Saturday, also known as ‘Super Saturday’.

On Saturday, retail destinations across the UK are still expected to witness a week-on-week uplift however this will be much more subdued compared to the activity witnessed throughout the week, at only +2.8% higher than the week before. Year-on-year we anticipate this to be at least -5% lower than last year likely attributed to many people choosing to travel to their Christmas destinations on Saturday 23 December.

Jenni Matthews, marketing and insights director at MRI Software, said: “The week kicked off on a strong note, setting the tone for retail stores and destinations, with three out of seven days witnessing double digit rises. High streets, in particular, saw significant week on week rises in footfall each day, except for Tuesday. This strong performance is likely to be influenced by the many festive markets and events taking place nationwide and is also evident in regional cities outside of London including North & Yorkshire and the West Midlands, where there was a double-digit rise in footfall from the week before.

“With no planned rail strikes in the lead up to Christmas Day, unlike last year, many consumers will take the opportunity to head out to retail destinations throughout the course of this week and take part in the many festive events taking place across the country, more so following 20th December which is when many schools across the UK are expected to finish for the festive break.

“As the anticipated rise in consumer activity aligns with consumer confidence rising for the second consecutive month, according to GfK, a strong trading week for bricks and mortar retail looks promising. This much needed boost will be paramount in closing out the Golden Quarter following a challenging year for both the retail sector and consumers.”

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