In the week leading up to Black Friday, retail footfall in the UK saw a slight increase. From November 12 to November 19, footfall across all retail destinations in the country rose by just 0.4% compared to the previous week. However, when compared to the same period last year, footfall actually decreased by 2.2%. Experts from MRI Software, a retail analytics firm, attribute this decline to challenging weather conditions and consumers holding out for the Black Friday sales.

Among different retail locations, high streets experienced the most significant increase in footfall, with a rise of 1%. Shopping centers also saw a modest increase of 0.6%. However, retail parks saw a decline of 1.3% compared to the previous week.

The week can be divided into two halves for retailers. In the first half, footfall across all UK destinations dipped by 5.5% due to adverse weather conditions. However, the second half of the week saw an upturn, particularly in high streets where footfall increased by 6.7% from Wednesday to Saturday compared to the previous week.

While there is some optimism for the high street, as the gap in footfall compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019 narrowed slightly from -13.9% in the previous week to -13.6%, across all UK retail destinations, the gap actually widened from -11.4% to -12.2%. This is because the gap in shopping centers increased from -16.6% to -18.1%, while in retail parks, it dropped from -0.5% to -2.9%.

Footfall varied across different regions in the UK. Seven out of ten geographical regions saw an increase in footfall, but Scotland experienced a significant decline of 5.1% compared to the previous week due to heavy rain and strong winds. Coastal towns and Greater London were also negatively impacted, with footfall falling by 4.6% and 3.7% respectively.

As the highly anticipated Black Friday approaches, retailers are hoping for a boost in footfall and sales. The week leading up to it has shown mixed results, with some areas experiencing growth while others faced challenges. The outcome of Black Friday will be closely watched to gauge consumer sentiment and the health of the retail industry in the UK.

Useful links:
Retail Gazette
BBC News – Retail