Snow or sun? Easter weather means footfall could go either way says Springboard

Easter weekend footfall to UK stores could be up… or it could be down, according to footfall tracking specialist Springboard. And no, that’s not the company hedging its bets. It’s just that the weather could send the figures either way.


UK Easter visitor traffic to stores could be up or down and the weather will be key


How so? Well, the prediction (all being well) is that Easter retail footfall could rise 2.4%. But with the weather forecast suggesting that we could see a return to snow across large parts of the UK, Springboard also said footfall could be down  anything up to 15% compared to the slightly later Easter a year ago.

The company said that if temperatures return to zero, that could happen, although it may not be likely given that the forecasts seem to be for a very brief return to snow on Friday only.

But even the best case scenario isn’t a great one. Given that visitor traffic to stores declined in both 2016 and 2017 by around 2%, an uplift of 2.4% wouldn’t even represent a return to Easter 2015 footfall levels.

Of course, this all really matters as Easter is the most anticipated weekend for retail after Christmas and especially store visitor numbers have been weak in recent months. 

But at least February saw the rate of decline slowing with only a 0.5% dip that was less than a third of that recorded in January and lower than the 12-month average of a 0.7% fall. And that was even more impressive when you take into account the impact of the month’s devastating snowstorms that saw footfall down 16.6% in the week starting February 25. 

Early March was also hit with footfall dropping 36% on March 1 and the three days from March 1 to 3 were down 28%.

There seems to be disagreement over whether online retail was able to pick up the slack. On Friday, IMRG Capgemini said the weather boosted e-sales in February by around 3.5% as shoppers had their goods delivered rather than venturing out to buy. But Springboard said online sales decline 0.7% with grocery specialist Ocado backing up that view. It said the weather and the delivery problems it created meant it had to cancel some online orders.

So with all that to take in, it really does look like predictions of how Easter will fare are very much ‘take your pick’ at the moment. 
 
Springboard Insights Director, Diane Wehrle said that “with normal weather, Easter Weekend footfall is anticipated to increase due to a range of factors including the timing of national payday before Easter, the milder weather following recent periods of adverse weather, the ongoing demand for leisure-oriented trips and the bounce-back in footfall in February from December and January.”

That payday timing means “households are likely to have some discretionary spending budget available that will not yet have been spent or allocated.”

And those consumers who cancelled shopping trips or delayed buying spring collections due to the snow may want to make up for lost time with an Easter binge. But of course, that all depends on the weather…

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