Supply issues expected to drive early Christmas shopping

Retail intelligence experts Springboard has predicted that The widespread awareness amongst consumers of potential supply issues this Christmas is likely to lead to consumers bringing their Christmas purchasing forward to November in order guarantee the availability of their desired gifts.

It predicts that Black Friday will be more popular this year, with week 47 [week beginning 21st November] seeing a boost in footfall of +7.9% and +6.5% in week 48, as shoppers take advantage of widespread discounting to visit stores to ensure they secure the gifts they want.

This contrasts with the average uplift in footfall in Black Friday week of +5.1% between 2014 and 2019 and +1.7% in Black Friday week in both 2018 and 2019.

Springboard has forecast that over the crucial six week Christmas trading period from Sunday 21st November through to Saturday 4th January, footfall across all UK retail destinations will average -17% lower than 2019, continuing the current trajectory seen in September 2021 with footfall down -17.4%.

This year, the drop in UK footfall from 2019 will be driven by high streets and shopping centres where, over this six week period, footfall will be -17.7% and -17.5% lower than 2019 respectively.

In contrast in retail parks, where footfall has been far more resilient throughout the pandemic, footfall will continue to strengthen and will average +5.5% higher than 2019 over the six week period.

Retail Parks are likely to be particularly strong over the last two weeks of the Christmas trading period, averaging +11.8% higher than 2019, as pre-Christmas food shopping is undertaken in the week running up to Christmas.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard commented: “This year, the ongoing impact of the covid-19 pandemic, along with the supply issue associated with the shortage of HGV drivers, which has already affected stock in food stores and led to the recent fuel crisis, will unfortunately cause further issues for bricks and mortar retailers over the Christmas trading period. In addition, the end of the furlough scheme, coinciding with recent increases in energy prices are likely to further dampen footfall as household spend on Christmas gifts is constrained and family experiences are favoured.

“Although footfall will be +80.9% stronger in comparison to 2020, this result is distorted as last year retailers were forced to close their doors for four weeks from the beginning of November, which overlapped, with two of the six week Christmas trading period. Whilst footfall will rise over the Christmas trading period, it will remain lower than pre-pandemic levels, part of which is the long term shift of some spend online which has impacted footfall by around -1.5% per annum for the past decade.”

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