Shopping centres take the hit as bargain hunters flee to online shops

Figures published today suggest Black Friday was a huge hit for online retailers – but did little to help the struggling bricks and mortar stores throughout the UK.

Overall footfall declined by 5.4% from Black Friday 2017 with declines of similar magnitudes throughout the weekend from last year (-5.6% on Saturday and -4.3% on Sunday). In contrast, Loqate/GBG recorded that online transactions rose by 46% up to 4pm on Black Friday.

Shopping centres were the worst hit, with a drop in footfall of -8.3% on Friday, and drops of similar proportions over the weekend, according to research firm Springboard.

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It said the fall was likely to be partially due to the fact that they are dominated by major chains which have a strong online presence and free delivery offering, so there is less need to visit their stores.

Additionally, the large drop in footfall in shopping centres will be due to the fact that most have very little hospitality offering, making it difficult to have a trip that combines shopping and eating out.High streets tend to have a wider hospitality offering, and footfall there dropped by -4% on Friday and to a similar degree over the weekend.

Footfall did rise by +8.6% on Black Friday from Friday in the week before, but Saturday was only level with the previous Saturday and on Sunday where it rose only marginally, by +2.2%.

If the trend for Cyber Monday follows previous years then it is unlikely that footfall will increase today. Last year footfall declined by -6.1% on Cyber Monday from Cyber Monday in 2016, and over the past three years footfall on Cyber Monday is between 15% and 18% lower than on Black Friday.

Diane Wehrle, insights director of Springboard, said: “The drop in footfall to bricks and mortar stores over Black Friday weekend is a reflection of the larger discounts offered online. Online is open for business 24 hours a day and is therefore seen as a more convenient option for shoppers.

“Throughout the weekend, the drop in footfall was most dramatic in shopping centres; the stronger resilience of high streets and retail parks in comparison is likely to be a function of their wider range of hospitality outlets compared with shopping centres. This illustrates that many shoppers regard Black Friday weekend as an opportunity for a day out with friends or family, which is likely to include a stop for coffee or lunch during their trip.”

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