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UK store visits drop as bad weather deters shoppers – BRC

Visits to UK shops fell in November as bad weather kept shoppers away and Black Friday failed to boost footfall, a survey showed.
Retail footfall was 15.7% lower than in November 2019 and 2 percentage points lower than in October, the British Retail Consortium said.

High street footfall dropped 19.6% from two years earlier and at retail parks the decline was 4.1%. The biggest drop was at shopping centres where visits were down 35%. Retail parks had the biggest decline since October, falling 3.7 points.

Footfall on Black Friday, which was on 26 November, fell 23.4% from two years earlier but footfall was 35% higher than the weekend before. This year many retailers spread Black Friday deals over the whole month of November, affecting the figures.

Helen Dickinson the BRC’s chief executive, said: “Footfall figures slipped back slightly on last month, as the harsh November weather deterred some customers from shopping instore. Nevertheless, this month’s footfall was still comparatively strong at the second highest figure for this year, only second to October.”

Retailers face a difficult run-in to Christmas, which is their most important trading period. Consumer confidence is fragile and is threatened by measures to contain the Omicron strain of Covid-19. Retailers and consumers also face rising costs caused by Brexit, supply chain problems and rising energy prices.

Andy Sumpter, a consultant at Sensormatic Solutions, which helped produce the survey, said: “Usually in November we’d expect to see a boost to the high street due to Black Friday, which traditionally marks the start of Christmas spending.

“Those who have bought early in a bid to avoid crowds and minimise risks of supply chain disruption have shopped even earlier this year, contributing to October’s boost and November’s lull. We still expect to see those ‘last minute’ shoppers hitting the high streets in December.”

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