Retailers to be hit  as Christmas footfall drops

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Retailers are to be hit by a difficult Christmas as footfall drops and shoppers spend less, according to new predictions.

Footfall across all UK retail destinations is predicted to decline by 62 per cent over the six weeks from Sunday 22 November to Saturday 26 December, according to retail researchers Springboard.

The figure is nearly double prior forecasts of a 32 per cent fall, as a result of the new lockdown announcement.

It warned that if the national lockdown is extended throughout December, footfall could drop by more than 80 per cent – the same as the decline at the height of the pandemic in April.

Consumers also intend to spend less, with 63 per cent of respondents planning to not spend as much this year compared to last, with only one in 10 people intending to buy more presents.

As there will be more focus on staying at home, a third of shoppers intend to spend more on food and groceries.

The survey of 1,000 shoppers across the UK identified that 61 per cent of consumers intended to spend more online while only 20 per cent plan to spend more from bricks and mortar stores. However, this was carried out before the national lockdown announcement.

The survey also found that 68 per cent intend to start Christmas shopping earlier in case of queues and Covid-19 restrictions, while 62 per cent intend to spend more in local stores this year.

Springboard’s insights director, Diane Wehrle, says: “The national lockdown restrictions will now see our struggling retailers miss out on the start of essential weeks of Christmas trading, including Black Friday weekend as non-essential retail remains closed until 2 December at the very earliest. Although restrictions may ease in December, this is by no means guaranteed as the second wave of covid19 ripples throughout the UK.

“Most consumers are likely to have completed a vast amount of shopping online in advance and may well have fears of returning to bricks and mortar stores, however retailers need to be given the opportunity to reopen ahead of Christmas.”