Boxing Day shoppers up by almost 40% but still down from pre-pandemic

The number of people shopping on Boxing Day increased by almost 40% compared to last year, but remained below pre-pandemic levels due to cost of living pressure on consumers.

According to data from retail analytics company Springboard, more shoppers turned up for the Boxing Day sales this year than last year in all retail settings across the UK.

As of 12 noon on Boxing Day, footfall had increased by 50.1% in 2021, data from the company shows.

Footfall on high streets increased by 44.1%, shopping centers by 40.4% and retail parks by 25.9% throughout the day.

Data from Springboard shows that by the end of the day, Boxing Day footfall in the UK was up 38.8% compared to 2021.

In central London, there was a 139.2% increase in the number of buyers at 12 noon on 2021. By the end of the day it was up 66% overall compared to 2021.

By noon on Boxing Day, the biggest increase was recorded in Northern Ireland, where five times more people attended the 26 December sale.

Footfall by the end of the day was 18.2% lower than on Boxing Day across all UK retail destinations in 2019, indicating that the number of shoppers was still lower than before the pandemic.

Diane Wehrle, Director of Insights at Springboard, commented: “Boxing Day this year was far from doom and gloom; Boxing Day morning had a better showing with a +50.1% increase in viewership, although overall footfall remained strong, with a +38.8% increase across the UK versus 2021.

“These positive results are in line with the first Christmas after the pandemic, without any formal social restrictions and despite the loss of life and cost of rail strikes, which inevitably negatively affected retailers.

“High Streets came out on top with an overall increase of +44.1%, while Central London dashed all expectations with an overall increase of +66%, reducing the gap from pre-pandemic 2019 Boxing Day levels to just – 7.8%, which is very welcome and promising news for the retailers in the capital.

Official data showed that the number of shoppers was low ahead of Christmas due to a rail strike and snowfall.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) quoted Springboard data as saying that in the week to 18 December, total footfalls fell by 6% on the previous week and by 23% on 2019 levels.

The high street was the worst hit, falling 12% over the previous week during the seven days to 18 December.

During the week from Monday 12 December there were two rail strikes of 48 hours each on 13, 14, 15 and 16 December.

Sales also started earlier this year, with many major retailers discounting products ahead of the traditional Boxing Day date.

Debenhams and John Lewis department stores both cut prices a week earlier than usual. Online retailer Asos also slashed prices ahead of December 26.

While the snow has melted, the rail strikes are on and will continue till December 29. They will resume in the new year from January 3 to 7 as the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers seeks improvements in pay and guarantees on jobs and conditions.

Retail sales fell sharply in November as inflationary prices ahead of Christmas kept shoppers wary. The inflation rate in November was 10.7 per cent.

The Office for National Statistics reported a fall in sales volumes of 0.3% compared with October, when the effects of fuel sales were excluded.

An increase of 0.3% was expected by economists given reports of healthy interest on goods and spending during Black Friday’s prime bargaining period.

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