ReThink Productivity Podcast

Footfall Insights October 2023

November 12, 2023 Season 13 Episode 8
ReThink Productivity Podcast
Footfall Insights October 2023
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Diane Wehrle Retail & Destination Insights Expert joins Simon for their monthly chat about footfall trends and shopping behaviours. They cover: 

  • Footfall trends from August to September 2023
  • New news from Diane
  • Halloween, Black Friday and Christmas

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Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Productivity Podcast. I'm delighted again to be joined by Dan Well for our monthly catch-up on footfall and we're talking from August to September, hi, dayan.

Speaker 2:

Hello Simon, how are you?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, good Thanks, and there's been a few changes in your world since we last spoke, I think hasn't there?

Speaker 2:

There have I left MRI software this week actually. So it's my first few days of independent working, so that's going to be really exciting. So I'm going to be working with a host of people, including yourselves, hopefully, supporting retail. My passion is retail and bricks and mortar retail and insights. So from the outside, probably not much will change actually, but I won't be bound by 9 to 5 anymore, which will be quite exciting.

Speaker 1:

Excellent. Yeah, you can work 8 to late now.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely Well, I do that anyway, Simon.

Speaker 1:

Happy days, Good. So I think last time we spoke we were in August to September. No, we weren't. We were in July to August. Now we're August to September. So September's results when have we headed and how was it looking?

Speaker 2:

Well, they were pretty much what we would have expected to see in September. So every year what we see is this pattern of footfall that rises up to mid-summer and then drops down in September, and that's happened every year. Mri size is published from data back in 2009. And it's an established pattern. Everyone finishes their holiday, the schools go back, people go back to work, they rail back a little bit in anticipation of Halloween now and also then Christmas. So we saw a drop in footfall. There was a drop in footfall of just under 3% 2.8% from August to September, which wasn't surprising. And actually the ONS have released the sales data today and they're highlighting that volumes of sales have dropped from August to September, with a sort of note of surprise, but of course I wasn't surprised because I was expecting that anyway. So it wasn't particularly it wasn't particularly shocking, so I don't think we should be startled by that at all.

Speaker 1:

So a typical trend that you'd see. I'm just trying to think what the weather was like. It was unseasonably hot, wasn't it?

Speaker 2:

It was warm. Yes, it was warm, and ONS have said that was one of the reasons it possibly was. I mean, I've looked back at the footfall data for preceding years and it's no. The drop from August to September this year was no greater than it had been in preceding years. So yes, we did have some warm weather, but that actually does help, for sometimes people want to go out and spend money and enjoy things. If it's not shopping, it might be a cup of coffee or for lunch. So certainly it wasn't anything distinctive in September and that's actually very encouraging, because if the drop had been much more severe than it had been in previous years, then it would have pointed to the economy being particularly impacted by the challenges that we're facing in terms of inflation and rising interest rates. So that should be comforting for the retailers who are listening.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I think they've just announced that Average weekly earnings figures July to August for this year were above inflation for the first time in two years. So for the economy's out there that will probably mean more than it does to me, but everyone's telling me that's a good thing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's a fine balance, isn't it? Because it's because inflation has been pushed down, because interest rates have gone up. So it's checks and balances. You know, interest inflation is dropping. It didn't drop. Of course. The latest results said it was static from the previous month, so sitting at 6.7%. The prices are still rising, and we have to acknowledge that, and they're rising more in food than they are in non-food, but it hasn't gone up and of course that means that our salaries have probably seen some increases above, above inflation. But of course we're being hit by higher interest rates, which has driven that inflation right now.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, and we kind of head into the, the golden quarter, I suppose, if we just think about retail and hospitality. So those Christmas parties and Every retailer I go in now They've kind of, I think, almost Scaled back a little bit on Halloween, but certainly there's some on the shelves. But again all the big supermarkets, all the discountes, you know, steve, starting to see Christmas Creep in. We've got half term at the end of October, black Fridays I think Towards the end, 24th of November. So there's kind of lots of events now in the calendar, isn't there? Then clearly We've got Christmas and and then the January sales coming, so so lots of things to try and stimulate spending. I wonder if people will go early, if they'll wait for discounts or they'll hang on for last-minute discounts. This year I'm not quite sure what the buying pattern will look like.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, no, it's always. It's always interesting every year. It's always a complete unknown. I mean, I think what we've seen over the last few years is is that Black Friday is in the diary and, however much people say it's a con or it's, you know, it's nothing special. It's an opportunity for people to start planning Christmas more easily in terms of their spending. And clearly, if you're going to buy Presence for people, if you've got an opportunity to buy those as a discounted level, you're going to take that opportunity. So I think quite a lot of people use Black Friday as an opportunity to go out and do some early Christmas Shopping. And you're right about the Halloween Christmas balance. I've noticed it too in supermarkets. It's not nearly as big Halloween this year and I've seen the Christmas puddings and mince pies on the shelves already, which is a little bit shocking, because I don't start eating my mince pies until Beginning of December, otherwise it's not good for the body. But yes, I think what they seem to have done is scale back on the Halloween promotions and focusing more on the Christmas To try and drive spending towards Christmas. So I think that bodes Well for Christmas, but I think people will look to spread purchases and budget more carefully and of course, black Friday is an opportunity to do some of that in November. So it will be all for opportunities for retailers to capture the shop early.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I'm. I'm seeing, you know I get all the things I've signed up to in my, my email but I'm seeing again Some retos do things differently. So size the kind of trainer shop just. I think yesterday, the day before, I had a blanket 20% of everything voucher to try and stimulate a sale, a source of kind of giving another percentage off the percentages They've already got. So I think there seems to be this trend towards more Periodic discounts, like kind of little and often, and clearly they'll be targeting certain types of shoppers that have shot regularly, that haven't shot to stimulate more. But Again, people starting to think differently again. But some of that must hit margin because For some people you'll be almost auto discounting something they were going to buy anyway.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely, and I think a lot of those discounts are about getting rid of excess stock from the summer. The trainer shops clearly, if they haven't mopped up the students spend by now. They probably feel they're not going to. So I know a number of shoe retailers who who are trade very heavily with amongst students and they focus very heavily on the start of the university year term where they've all have their Loans. So it may be part of trying to clear the shelves and make way for Christmas stock. And certainly people at ASOS will have sort of quite a lot of stock hanging over in the summer. It wasn't a great summer so people probably wouldn't have bought nearly as much summer fashion as they might have done if the weather had been better. So that's probably part of getting rid of the stuff, the inventory and clearing the way for new stock and allow and allowing Christmas to take to take precedence. It will be interesting to see whether how much beyond Black Friday, how much of the sales there will be, because a lot of retailers have railed back on ordering stock and just being a little bit more cautious Around how much stock they're going to carry. So whether they're not, there'll be Sufficient stock to have huge sales and huge discounts post Christmas. That will be really interesting.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's always turkeys as well in food, isn't it? There's always a massive shortage because something's happened, or a massive overage in there. Reduced, reduced, cheap on the on Christmas Eve.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. It's the time to do your Christmas food shopping, but are you brave enough?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I'm not quite there. I don't think I'd get shot, I think, if I left it that late and came back with With something that I wasn't supposed to. But so I suppose in summary year today we've had some peaks and troughs, as I think you expect in any kind of data Tracking, I think the last couple of months, in terms of what you do expect, I think the big unknown, as we say going in, is where the economy is. I also think the weather's probably got a big part to play. You know we're in October, as we record, and we've already had two storms and Record temperatures for the month. So it just feels a bit weird in terms of what, what's going to get thrown us from an economic Point of view, but also from a weather point of view, which clearly has a massive impact.

Speaker 2:

It does. I remember last year, last Christmas, a week before Christmas, we had rail strikes for three days of the week before Christmas. Yeah so, and of course people you get sent to get this polarized spending peaks and troughs. So Black Friday's Love it or hate it, people do spend on Black Friday and then it goes into a bit of a lull until sort of mid Mid-December and then it really ramps up. But of course last year in the week that was supposed to be the peak week, we have rail strikes which really did up, destabilize things a little bit, impacted high streets, so people went to retail parts and shopping centers and it was extremely cold. Remember I was doing an outside broadcast with BBC and it was minus nine in in one Saturday morning. It was absolutely freezing. So you're right that weather really plays part and of course, if it's very, very cold, people will Gravitate more towards covered shopping centers than they would to high streets. That's inevitable. Why would you want to be outside if you don't have to be? And of course, if it's pouring, your row with rain light wise. But I'm anticipating that this Christmas will be a little more subdued than the last Christmas anyway, partly because of all things have gone up in cost and people have Been away this year and probably spent more on holidays than they had in the previous certainly in the previous three years Because a lot of people hadn't been on holiday because of COVID and high price of holidays had gone up and of course, inflation's been Very high. So I'm expecting a more subdued Christmas, generally not significant, I mean, I'm not expecting a disaster, but the people would just be much more cautious because the course called. A lot of people are looking over the hill into january and seeing there are fixed rate mortgages ending and coming into new arrangements on your variable rates which will set them back a huge amount on terms of household budget each month.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we're not. We're not really touched on energy this. So signs are it's gonna come down and there's all sorts of kind of Offers starting to come back to the table on charging your electric car overnight to get a discounted rate. I think british gas doing a Sunday save a rate between eleven and five so that hopefully will continue to ease.

Speaker 2:

Yes, absolutely. And all these, these little incentives and these I mean I've seen, you know, cost of fuel come down, that makes a big difference on the household budget for a lot of people. You know not that's a meal out or it's a present for a family member. So all of these things make a huge difference when you add them all up in the totality. So I think we're actually it was, it's going to be a christmas of caution. I don't think it's actually going to be a disaster, straight increases by any means, but I think people are going to be quite Deserning around what they buy and I know the christmas, yeah, food sharpen, the family get together and the friends, I think, will remain. The hospitality bit will be interesting that you mentioned around christmas parties because of course every so many people work remotely for at least part of the week now that actually they may become quite big or they may for some companies not happen at all or be very subdued or much more local, and I know a lot of businesses of scaling back on christmas events just because the sheer scale of the price, you know, when you look at it at a corporate level. So that is going to be an interesting one to watch.

Speaker 1:

Yep, but lots of christmas conferences. I see on on linkedin. It's that time when they say people are getting ready for the golden quarter, so good to see what's the familiar faces kind of at their corporate christmas conferences, all geared up for, hopefully, what will be a bumper time for absolutely, absolutely.

Speaker 2:

And I mean I think what we have learned through covids, that people want to socialize, want to get together. So actually I think hospitality is a fairly good place, although obviously the cost of the cost of sale is higher than it has been.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely brilliant. On that note will pause and let's hope the weather where by me stops raining by the time we speak next month, because it looks like it's setting for a while and we'll see where we get to september, to october. Great, good speak, catch you son take care.

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