Retail intelligence experts Springboard forecast a surge in shopping for Black Friday this year. It is anticipated that UK footfall will increase by +7.9% in the week of Black Friday [Sunday 21 – Sat 27 November] from the previous week, peaking on Black Friday itself with a rise of +19%, bringing renewed optimism for the retail sector this Christmas.
Over the past eight years since the first Black Friday event in the UK in 2013, there have been as many years when footfall on that day has declined from the year before as it has increased, ranging from a high of +9.8% in 2014 to a drop of -5.4% in 2018. In 2020 – with England in the midst of a lockdown and the rest of the UK subject to restrictions – footfall on Black Friday was -60.4% lower than on Black Friday 2019, a sharp contrast to the year before when trading conditions were normal and footfall was +3.3% higher than on Black Friday 2018.
This year, Black Friday is set to be bigger than ever. Not only will UK retail destinations see footfall increase by +7.9% over the week as a whole, footfall will peak over the Black Friday weekend with rises of +19% on Friday, +13% on Saturday and +11% on Sunday.
With their expansive retail offering, it is shopping centres that are anticipated to be the most attractive destination for shoppers to visit on Black Friday, as footfall is predicted to rise by 24%. High streets will also see a rise of 20% and +6% in retail parks. However, Springboard recognises that the lower growth in activity in retail parks than in high streets and shopping centres is inevitable as they start from a much higher base (in October, footfall in retail parks was just -3.1% lower than the 2019 level whilst it was -15% lower in high streets and -20% lower in shopping centres).
The uplift in footfall will continue through to Saturday and Sunday in all three destination types, albeit to a slightly lower degree than on Friday. Over the three days, from Black Friday to Sunday, footfall in shopping centres is forecast to be +19% higher than on the same three days in the previous week, +17% in high streets and +4% in retail parks.
The anticipated uplift in shopper activity on Black Friday this year means that over the three days from Friday to Sunday footfall is forecast to be +107.5% higher than on the same three days in 2020. However, the magnitude of the drop in footfall since Covid means that over the three days footfall will still be -14.4% lower than in 2019. In retail parks, however, we expect footfall to be just -2.9% below the 2019 level across the three days and virtually level with 2019 on Friday (-0.7%).
Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, says: “With retailing now back to full throttle, and shoppers having been deprived of the opportunity to visit bricks and mortar destinations in the run up to and over Christmas last year, we are anticipating that footfall will increase by +7.9% in the week of Black Friday from the week before. The increase in shopper activity is also likely to be a consequence of the concern around potential supply issues which could mean that unless chosen gifts are purchased early, they may not subsequently be available in time for Christmas.
“High streets and shopping centres will be the winners in terms of the uplift in shopper numbers, as consumers make the most of the opportunity to grab Christmas presents early to ensure they don’t suffer from any supply shortages but also soak up the Christmas feel that was so absent last year. However, retail parks will continue to appeal to shoppers due to the compelling discounting offered by electrical and homeware retailers that is a key feature of Black Friday, together with their accessibility and free parking, which makes it easy and convenient for shoppers to click and collect online purchases.”