ReThink Productivity Podcast

Footfall Insights November 2023

November 26, 2023 Season 13 Episode 9
ReThink Productivity Podcast
Footfall Insights November 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 September to October 2023
  • Black Friday and Christmas

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Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Productivity Podcast. Dan Will returns Retail and Destinations Insight Expert for our chat around football trends from September to October. Hi Dike.

Speaker 2:

Hi Simon.

Speaker 1:

How are you?

Speaker 2:

I'm very well. Thank you. Well, I have just come back from three weeks in Australia, so I should not be OK.

Speaker 1:

Well, I suspect you've seen much better weather and less wind and rain than we have here. I was going to say, if it was at the time of recording, you were just going. I was expecting that you were going into I'm a celebrity but you're back just before it started.

Speaker 2:

Yes, I'm afraid I interviewed and they didn't really want me.

Speaker 1:

Well, maybe next year, maybe next year. So September to October football. Clearly, people in retail hospitality, certainly all the supermarkets, are giving up for their golden quarter. So how are things faring as we move into probably the most important two months, november, december for lots of organisations?

Speaker 2:

Well, I'll start with my forecast that I put forward for October back in September actually and I forecast that football would be 1.3% lower annually in October than October 2022. And in fact, my forecast came true. So it was actually lower, and it's not surprising given the wind and rain that occurred during the month. Obviously, I was pretty immune to it, but I did see all the reports. It looked pretty horrendous. High streets and shopping centres drove all of that decline and when the ONS released their results, that reflected the decline in football, so sales were down as well, and that really shouldn't be surprising to anyone. So it's definitely a month of caution. The consumers are clearly gearing up for Christmas and, before that, black Friday, which, at the time of recording today, is literally three days away. But since the October results have come through, inflation has dropped a couple of points and there's lots of good talk in the market around interest rates coming down a little bit, so possibly Black Friday won't be quite as black as we hoped. It might be actually quite better than we anticipated.

Speaker 1:

It's interesting. I don't know what your email inbox has been like, but it feels like it's Black Friday month, so lots of people have gone early, haven't they? Again, some retailers some are maybe the higher end fashion coming out saying that it's not for them in terms of the way they price or the way they deliver product, but it does seem to have stretched.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely, and I think that's happened over the last sort of three to four years. When we first had Black Friday back in 2013, 2014,. It was a day and it became two or three days. Now it's at least a week, if not that, and of course then it sort of slides straight into Cyber Monday. So I mean it's an opportunity for retailers to capture the Christmas shopper, whilst predictions for Black Friday in terms of foot of four are not as positive as they were last year, still increasing from the week before. Obviously. Actually, I think people are going to use Black Friday's an opportunity to spread spending. I know it's leading up to payday, but it is always leading up to payday. It's never moved. So people talk about oh, the fact it's leading up to payday, but it's always leading up to payday. But people are going to use that opportunity, I think, to get out into store. And what we found, particularly last year, which was the first Black Friday since COVID, is actually people use it as a sort of kick-off Christmas shopping day. Many people actually took days off work to go into high streets and shopping centres, particularly to enjoy that Christmas spirit and see the decorations and have lunch or have a coffee, meet friends and combine it and make it the first day that they really had some positive experience around Christmas and then combine that with buying some gifts as well. It literally is only four weeks till Christmas, so it's not actually a long way away at all. Some people are going to use that opportunity and I think the forecast for online spending, imrg, put out release in the middle of October saying that gift spending online is hugely down this year 12.5% year on year up to the end of September. So it shows that people aren't buying those gifts online and they're anticipating a drop annually of 11% revenue and gifts over Black Friday. So they are, you know, coming along with my thinking in terms of people aren't going to want to spend on gifts online. They want that experience, which is great. Physical stores and destinations.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's interesting, isn't it? I don't know if people see, like you said, there, black Friday is the kickoff to Christmas spending, or if some people it almost starts to cannibalise those sales. So I'll take the supermarkets as an example. You know, we've got club card prices, we've got nectar prices, we've got the Asda spending and save points and they're all discounting what you'd see as your Christmas dinner. So, yeah, other than Turkey's lambs, third off, half price, pork, beef, et cetera. So I don't know, savvy shoppers are going to have that and stick it in the freezer, aren't they?

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. I mean I think there is a difference to possibly the food and the non-food. I think certainly people are trying to stretch their budgets. They have to because there's only so much money in that pot for anyone, for any household, and they're going to look for ways to have a great Christmas at the best price they can. So if the offers are there now they will buy and put in the freezer, bring them out, and if they have an opportunity to buy gifts early, that's a reduced amount they will probably take that up. But you know that has always been the case and there's always been that fixed pot of spending for any household across Christmas. Yes, you may get a little bit of a sort of last minute shopping when they see some bargains in the run up to Christmas, but generally people are budgeting quite carefully this year and last year because people are stretched and they have no choice and even at the higher end we're seeing some signs that the higher end or higher end retailers are finally starting to feel the impact as well. So I think I mean, brought Back Friday has always been that opportunity for retailers to capture that shop early and get that spend in the bank, so to speak, and not lose that shop to other retailers.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it'd be interesting to see how it plays out. I always think you can judge how well Christmas has been for many a retailer by how much they've got left for the January sale.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely, although I feel that some retailers have cut back on inventory and stock this year in anticipating a tighter spending Christmas, so it will be interesting if they become more savvy in terms of their stock management. They may not have much left to put in the sale which happened a little bit over COVID, people realized that people were shopping, so retailers pulled back, so the sales weren't as fantastic as people had hoped they would be, but that pulls people forward. It makes people buy before Christmas rather than delay spending until after Christmas to give people money, give kids money, and then go and spend after Christmas or wait until very last minute. I mean. Interestingly, this year perhaps this is more of a topic for November, so I don't understand why I'm in thunder, but we have a full trading week up to the end of the right after Christmas, which is great news for retail, so that will be good.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, it'd be interesting to see how it pans out. And how much does the weather typically have an impact. If it's kind of bright but cold, Does that make a difference, or is it is the weather the sales on, dependent on the weather?

Speaker 2:

No weather is really important for retail. Rain is not retail's friend. I mean, we all know personally that we feel about going out when it's pouring with rain. I've had a look at the forecast for Friday and it looks actually relatively positive. It looks reasonably mild and dry, which is great retail weather. It encourages people to be able to go out. People can get to where they want to go with no hassle and they can walk around high streets and shopping centres at ease, not feeling that they've been blown off their feet. So if the weather holds, that will be great news for Black Friday.

Speaker 1:

And then I assume that kind of that correlation carries on all the way through to Christmas. So if we end up with monsoon winds, all that kind of stuff, it discourages people or pushes them into kind of more of the regional destinations.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. I mean, last Christmas was a great example of that. So the last week of the Christmas trading period we had rail strikes, we had postal strikes. That really impacted Christmas trading last year because a lot of people were leaving it really quite late because it was incredibly cold as well. I don't know if you remember, but it was like minus eight degrees. The weather was really hot, it wasn't very rainy, but it was incredibly cold and the people were leaving it late. And then the rail strikes hit and so of course that pushed people out of high streets, particularly because, even if they wanted to, it was been difficult to get to the city centres but into shopping centres and retail parts, but not fully, because some people just abandoned trips. But one thing that was quite positive for retail destination last year was the fact that the postal service runs. People relied less on online purchasing. They just didn't trust the delivery mechanism to get those gifts to them before Christmas, so they went back into retail destinations. So it was a bit of a give and take, but those sorts of impacts have a real effect on Christmas trading. A large portion of people do leave it till quite late. They may have a good look round, but there will always be presents that they want to buy later, and if they can't get to the source by then, that will impact sales.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and there was a report I can't remember if it was BBC News or LinkedIn around the top five delivery networks, so I won't name them, but the ones that will bring all your parcels to your house. None of them scored, I think, over 50% in terms of reliability or customer satisfaction. So again, there's some signs that they're under pressure already before we get to peak?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I don't think they could have forecast or anticipated the impact of the postal strike, so they probably didn't staff up well enough. And there's only so much capacity Now. They've only got so many vans and so many lawyers to carry things around to people and deliver things, and there's only so many delivery slots they can have. So, you know, all this is positive signs for retail destinations and, of course, christmas is about pre-Christmas this as well as the Christmas Day bit and people want to soak up that atmosphere and you can't really do that online. It's very functional, it's very convenient, it's very transactional and some of the online opportunities and platforms are fantastic now and offer a better experience, but you're still sitting at home on your own, essentially not having that Christmas spirit around you.

Speaker 1:

Yep and Christmas party season probably comes into full swing for the most people early next month through to December. So hopefully again a lift for hospitality and restaurant trade.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely, although you know things have shifted with. You know, christmas parties it's. You know, in the days when we were all in our offices five days a week, we would, you know, christmas party was a given, wasn't it? And now everyone's more diverse and spread out geographically, it's almost harder to organise a Christmas party. Yet it becomes more important to more of a date in the calendar. But I think some of it have become more relaxed and more casual. But certainly, you know, it's a peak point for hospitality and it's a real opportunity for hospitality to, you know, pump prime the revenue. But they could have been severely lacking, particularly over October with all the poor weather.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah. And all the high street fashions clearly geared towards hoping people have parties, because if you stroll down the high street and look in the windows, they're all you know selling you party dress or your new shirt or your your spangly jacket. So they're all clearly hoping that Christmas parties are in full flow over the next couple of months.

Speaker 2:

Yes, absolutely, and I think that's right. I think you know there is a difference at Christmas and I think many people will still go the whole hulk and buy that new outfit. Things have become a little more, you know, cautious over the last few years. So the prices, the outfits that people are willing to spend, are probably lower than they were a few years ago pre-covid. And of course, many people have a lot of party outfits sitting in their wardrobes pre-covid that they haven't worn for three or four years. So there's probably a little pullback in terms of that evening wear market. Perhaps we would have seen in years if COVID hadn't happened.

Speaker 1:

Excellent. So next episode hopefully we'll have some insight on Black Friday. That should give us a good steer into Christmas trade, and then we'll see what happens at peak.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yeah, looking forward to. I'm always looking forward to Black Friday to see what, what, what the pattern of spending is.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, excellent, brilliant. We'll pause there and we'll catch up next month on Black Friday and preview Christmas.

Speaker 2:

Thanks, armin.

Speaker 1:

Thank you.

Football Trends and Christmas Shopping Analysis
Previewing Black Friday and Christmas Trade

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