A forecast according to retail experts MRI Springboard indicates that over the 2023 Easter weekend footfall will be +5.1% higher than over the same three trading days in the week before, providing retailers with a much-needed boost amidst the cost of living crisis. This is a contrast with Easter 2022, when footfall over the Easter weekend was -0.1% lower than the same days in the week before, as consumers made trips to retail destinations in advance of Good Friday.
Over the period from Monday to Thursday leading up to Easter 2022, footfall rose from the week before by an average of +15% with a rise of +21.9% on Thursday and +27.3% in UK high streets. Footfall activity last year will have been heavily influenced by the fact that it was the first Easter without any Covid restrictions, which encouraged consumers to make shopping trips early in the week so to be able to socialise with family and friends over the Easter weekend.
In line with this, MRI Springboard is forecasting the largest week on week rise of +10.3% across all UK on Good Friday, with a rise of +15% in UK high streets, followed by a rise across all UK destinations of +6.2% on Saturday and a drop in footfall of -3.4% on Easter Monday.
Over the Easter weekend as a whole, MRI Springboard is expecting the biggest rises in footfall to occur in UK high streets (+6.6%) as many towns feature Easter events designed to attract shoppers, and in UK retail parks (+5.1%) as many shoppers use the Easter weekend for home and garden improvements. A more modest rise in footfall of +2.5% from the previous week is forecast in UK shopping centres.
Last week – two weeks ahead of Easter – footfall across all UK retail destinations declined by -2.6% from the week before last. However, with the recent significant disruption caused by the rail and other strikes it is more revealing to look at footfall over the past three weeks, and over this period it has remained virtually flat with an average week on week drop of just -0.1%.
What is of more concern is that last week footfall across all UK retail destinations was -6% lower than in the same week in 2022, with an annual decrease of -9.1% in UK high streets, -3.4% in retail parks and -2% in shopping centres.
This was the second time this has occurred in three weeks but only the third time there has been an annual decline since April 2021. This is a clear indicator that any gains made from week to week are too modest to drive a long-term increase in footfall, and given that there was a year on year decline across all three key destination types, it suggests that the cost of living crisis is hampering growth in retail spending. This is reinforced further by the fact that there has been a double-digit annual increase in only eight of the 33 weeks since August last year and in only five of the 12 weeks this year.
Diane Wehrle, insights director at MRI Springboard, said: “Easter 2023 is more likely to follow long-term trends in footfall over the bank holiday weekend recorded by MRI Springboard over the past 16 years. This trend typically shows increases in footfall from the week before on Good Friday and Easter Saturday with a drop on Easter Monday, reflecting the fact that many office-based employees are on leave and so not in their offices on that day.
We are expecting that footfall will continue to plateau over this week as many consumers hold off from making shopping trips, saving days out for the week of Easter and the Easter weekend itself.
The week on week increases in footfall over Easter 2023 means that footfall will be +5.4% higher than over Easter 2022 which is not a huge gain from last year but reflects the downward trend in footfall over recent weeks due to rail and other strikes. Whilst the annual rise is forecast to be fairly modest, the good news is that over Easter 2023 the gap from the pre-pandemic footfall level is forecast to disappear, with a marginal rise of +0.1% from Easter 2019, all of which will be driven by Easter Saturday when footfall is forecast to be +5.5% higher than on Easter Saturday 2019.”