Footfall at the UK’s retail destinations was more than a fifth (22.1%) lower this Boxing Day than a year ago, data has suggested.

MRI Software also said footfall had been 2.3% higher than last year by 3pm, but across the full day shoppers dropped off significantly compared to 2022.

The rise earlier in the day had been driven by a 6.5% increase in high street visitors, it said.

The only town to experience a rise compared to last year was central London, where footfall was 12.9% higher.

Week on week, footfall was 32.9% lower across all high street, retail park and shopping centre destinations.

Compared to 2019, footfall was 33.8% lower, as the continued rise of online shopping, the close proximity of Black Friday and the cost-of-living crisis further deterred shoppers.

Jenni Matthews, marketing and insights director at MRI Software, said: “It was encouraging to see Boxing Day footfall rise year on year by 2.3% across all UK retail destinations up until 3pm, however it wasn’t enough to bridge the gap between the figures last year in 2022.

“The footfall drop of 32.9% 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 down 33.8% 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.

The vibrancy of the district at Christmastime is a reflection of the West End’s reputation as a world-class retail and leisure destination

Dee Corsi, New West End Company

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 Christmastime 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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