UK retailers see a 50% increase in Boxing Day shoppers on last year’s figures | retail industry | Daily News Byte

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The number of shoppers hitting the Boxing Day sales has increased since last year’s Covid-hit Christmas – but remains well below levels seen before the pandemic.

Shopper tracking agency Springboard said there was a 50% increase in the number of shoppers outside on Monday compared to last year, when the Omicron variant of Covid-19 prompted many people to stay at home. However, this remained 30.5% lower than the 2019 level.

Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s director of insights, said the sunny weather had helped and the bounceback from last year was likely to have been helped by Boxing Day falling on Monday, when a number of big chains chose to stay, compared to last year’s Sunday. closed while others reduced trading hours.

“Footfall has undoubtedly been helped by the calm and sunny weather, which has encouraged consumers to travel outdoors. These results provide real cause for optimism among retailers, as they are consistent with the underlying challenge of another rail strike and the cost of living crisis,” said Wehrle.

In Manchester, there were queues outside the Arndale Center when it opened at 8am on Monday, but the Manchester Evening News pictured a nearby empty car park in the out-of-town Trafford Center Mall.

The Birmingham Mail reported that the city center felt “quite calm”, although there were queues outside some stores including Zara, River Island and cosmetics retailer Lush. Some shops remained closed, including Home Bargains and Poundland.

In central London, footfall more than doubled – up 139% – from last year, but was down 22% in 2019. Huge queues formed outside the Selfridges department store on Oxford Street from 8am, with traders saying the street was busy.

De Courcy, chief executive of the New West End Company, a trade body representing retailers and other businesses in central London, said trading had been “resilient”.

“Footfall reached the closest ever to pre-pandemic levels in the first ban-free festive season in three years, with visitors from across the country flocking to the capital to make the most of all the West End has to offer,” she said.

“While I am pleased to see the recovery of the West End continuing through the busy festive season, the district would have fared much better if public transport had been operating normally. We still have a lot of work to do to fully recover from the damage of the epidemic, and I am naturally concerned that the latest proposed rail strike will dampen optimism and prevent further progress.”

The better-than-expected number of shoppers comes despite predictions that spending on Boxing Day will fall by around 4% to around £3.8bn, according to analysts at GlobalData for VoucherCodes.

Given that inflation is running above 10%, this figure represents an even bigger drop in the volume of items purchased, so shoppers will spend more per purchase.

The slowdown in spending will put more pressure on retailers already suffering from transport and postal strikes, snow and rising energy and food bills that have cut into spare cash to spend on gifts and treats.

Stores may have been boosted by concerns over a postal strike halting deliveries, but more than a third of this year’s Boxing Day bargain hunting is still expected to take place online, where an estimated £1.25bn will be spent.

According to research by credit and debit card operator Barclaycard, personal technology, such as mobile phones, was among the most sought-after items.

It says that only four in 10 (42%) asked if the rising cost of living would affect their ability to shop in the post-Christmas sales, and nearly two-thirds of that group planned to spend less than usual in the sales.

However, 30% said they had stopped treating themselves, family and friends in the past few months and would use the post-Christmas sales to do so.

Harshana Kale, head of online payments at Barclaycard Payments, said: “Rising living costs and inflationary pressures have naturally impacted the amount spent in post-Christmas sales this year. With that said, retailers can rest assured that shoppers still plan to make the most of the deals and discounts on offer.”

In a further sign of the money-saving climate, three in 10 Britons said they would resell unwanted gifts online, with almost two-thirds listing their items on Christmas Eve or early Christmas Day, Barclaycard data showed.

The expected drop in Boxing Day trade compared to last year continues a long decline in the popularity of the annual shopping tradition, due to the rise of US-inspired November discount day Black Friday and the move towards the start of year-end sales ahead of Christmas Day. Jointed to steal his thunder.

As Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, there is also an extra bank holiday when shops are open – on Tuesday 27 December – meaning bargain hunting can be spread over more days, further reducing the importance of the 26 December timing.

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