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Boxing Day shopper footfall was up 4% across all UK retail destinations, boosted by visits to high streets and central London, according to analysts.

High streets enjoyed an 8.8% increase in shoppers on last Boxing Day, while central London saw footfall up 10.6% compared with 2022 and a 1.6% increase on pre-pandemic levels, retail analysts MRI Software said.

Week on week, footfall was 33% lower across all destinations – high streets, retail parks and shopping centres – monitored by MRI.

Compared to 2019, footfall remained 14.9% lower, indicating a continued impact from the rise of online shopping, the close proximity of Black Friday deterring further spending, and the potential restrictions of the cost-of-living crisis, MRI Software said.

Jenni Matthews, marketing and insights director at MRI Software, said: “It was encouraging to see Boxing Day footfall rise year on year by 4% across all UK retail destinations, which was largely driven by high streets.

“The footfall drop of 33% week on week across all destination types is not surprising given that last week consumers were finalising their festive shopping.

“The fact that compared to 2019 levels, footfall remains 14.9% down indicates the long-term impacts of the continued rise of online shopping, as many consumers may have started their sale shopping on Christmas Day evening, and with Black Friday only a few weeks ago many will have grabbed their bargains back then.

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“We also can’t forget that many people may be tightening their purse strings given the cost-of-living status, or may still be spending time with their families on Boxing Day and not be heading out to stores and destinations until later in the week.

“Therefore, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the week pans out for retail as we close out 2023.”

London’s West End confirmed a “bumper” Boxing Day, with footfall up 5% on 2022.

Retail group the New West End Company said the district had been buoyant across December, with footfall up 20% on November and 6% on last December, driven by international shoppers.

New West End Company chief executive Dee Corsi said: “The vibrancy of the district at Christmas time is a reflection of the West End’s reputation as a world-class retail and leisure destination.

“More than just shopping, many flock here to enjoy all that the area has to offer across the festive season – little wonder then that we have had a busy December, rounded off with a bumper Boxing Day to set the West End up for a positive start to 2024.

“However, we cannot afford to ignore that it is international visitors driving our recovery this winter, particularly on Boxing Day. The cost-of-living crisis is squeezing domestic spending and dampening consumer confidence.

“It is imperative that the Government heeds calls for an independent review of tax-free shopping to put us back on a level playing field with continental Europe.”

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