New Year’s Eve blow as shoppers desert stores

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Shopper footfall saw an unexpected and significant drop on New Year’s Eve as cautious consumers switched their spending to online retailers, figures show.

Bricks and mortar retailers suffered a 10.5 per cent drop in footfall compared with the same 24 hours on New Year’s Eve last year, according to monitoring service Springboard.

Shoppers did have to contend with wind and rain from Storm Dylan, which could have led some to change plans, but the weather had mainly cleared up by the early evening.

The poor performance follows an overall 4.5 per cent fall on Boxing Day, while footfall was down 2.3 per cent between December 27 and December 30 – when it was hoped retailers would see their tills recover during the peak sales period.

High street footfall for the Boxing Day sales fell by 5.9 per cent on last year as the number of shoppers hunting for bargains on Christmas Day rose.

However footfall recovered on New Year’s Day, rising by 16.8 per cent on the same time last year, although at least part of this uplift is thought to have been due to January 1 falling on a Monday.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: ‘The drop in footfall on New Year’s Eve was unexpected, and particularly the magnitude of the decline.

‘Overall the Christmas and New Year trading period this year has been challenging for bricks and mortar stores, with noticeably lower footfall than last year.

‘In part this is a reflection of caution amongst consumers, but is also a function of underlying structural shifts in consumers’ shopping habits due to online activity and the fact that spending is spread across a wider range of products than before which is encompassing leisure experiences rather than purely physical goods.’