The latest insights from retail analyst MRI Software (previously Springboard), show the Black Friday week offered optimism for UK retail destinations this Golden Quarter. Across all UK retail destinations, footfall jumped by +7.9% against the week before, providing retailers with a boost. Much of the uplift was driven by Black Friday itself, with destinations benefiting from increased footfall throughout the evening period.
Footfall across all retail destinations was +2.0% higher than 2022, however it still lagged behind 2019 levels, activity still remained -12.6% lower than 2019 across all UK retail destinations with shopping centres and retail parks seeing the gap widen to -20.4% and -5.7% respectively. MRI says the gap suggests that pre-pandemic footfall figures may never be fully regained for events such as Black Friday as consumers continue to shift towards online shopping.
High streets led the charge with +10% rise in footfall followed by shopping centres (+7.7%) and retail parks (+3.5%). This suggests that many town centres which have invested in festive decorations and events are attracting visitors to their locations. This performance, compared to 2022, is much stronger as footfall rose week over week by only +3.2% for the same week last year.
It was a solid week with rises in footfall recorded each day from the week before in all destination types however high streets stood out with an average rise of +13.1% from Sunday to Monday. This trend dipped mid-week but soon lifted as Black Friday drew near with a week-on-week rise averaging +9.9% from Thursday to Saturday. Much of this activity was derived from the early evening period where footfall rose by +14.4% from the week before, likely attributed to people attending many festive events taking place across the country after work.
Central London and large city centres fared well last week from the week before with rises of +16.4% and +10.8% respectively. Historic towns, which also offer festive markets, also stood out last week with a rise of +13.4% from the week before. Regionally, footfall rose across the country however the South West (+10.7%), Scotland (+10.3%) and Wales (+9.6%) were the clear winners.
Jenni Matthews, marketing and insights director at MRI Software, said: “All three destination types – high streets, shopping centres and retail parks – saw consistent rises in footfall throughout the week. Shopping centres led the charge on Black Friday witnessing an increase in activity that was double that of the entire week. High streets performed much better than forecasted indicating the attractions put on by many town centres are serving their purpose in enticing visitors.
“Various locations including historic towns, Central London and regional cities outside of London witnessed significant rises in footfall from the week before, largely driven by consumer activity on Black Friday. Festive events in cities and towns, alongside HMV’s return to Oxford Street, likely played a role in these numbers as consumers looked to make the most of the day and create memorable experiences with loved ones. For many, payday will have fallen on Friday – potentially the final one before Christmas – therefore the Black Friday sales provided the perfect opportunity to snap up those festive bargains.”