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Footfall slumps in November as Black Friday lures shoppers online

Indy 100 logo Indy 100 09/12/2018 Ben Chapman
a group of people in a store © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

The number of shoppers visiting UK retailers slumped 3.2 per cent in November and business confidence has fallen to an almost two-year low, new research suggests.

Retail footfall has now decreased for 12 consecutive months, with November’s Black Friday promotions failing to provide a boost.

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Springboard, the retail technology company that compiled the data, predicts a further 4.2 per cent decline in December as shoppers increasingly buy their Christmas gifts online.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said Black Friday had accelerated the movement from in-store to online shopping in the lead-up to Christmas.

Shoppers brave the rain as they make their way down the High Street in Winchester, Hampshire. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images) © PA Wire/PA Images Shoppers brave the rain as they make their way down the High Street in Winchester, Hampshire. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images) She added: “It has been a difficult year for many retailers and the outlook remains challenging as Brexit uncertainty grows. 

“Retailers will be following the upcoming parliamentary vote closely and hoping Parliament can secure a transition period to allow businesses time to adapt to life outside the EU.”

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2018/11/23: Shoppers are seen at the topshop taking advantage of the Black Friday deals that many high street stores are offering.
A very busy Black Friday at the London's Oxford street. (Photo by Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) © 2018 SOPA Images LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2018/11/23: Shoppers are seen at the topshop taking advantage of the Black Friday deals that many high street stores are offering. A very busy Black Friday at the London's Oxford street. (Photo by Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) Without a transition period consumers will face increased prices, Ms Dickinson warned.

Separate research from BDO found that business confidence fell last month to its lowest level since January 2017, while output also dropped.

The forecast for manufacturing firms is particularly bleak, with output falling in November despite an “artificial” boost from Brexit stockpiling as companies build up supplies in anticipation of customs delays.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2018/11/23: Shoppers are seen at the Debenham shop taking advantage of the Black Friday deals that many high street stores are offering. (Photo by Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) © 2018 SOPA Images LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2018/11/23: Shoppers are seen at the Debenham shop taking advantage of the Black Friday deals that many high street stores are offering. (Photo by Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) Manufacturers could see a further decline in output as firms draw down on their accumulated inventories, BDO warned.

The performance of UK manufacturing was “lacklustre” in November, as Brexit continued to bite, according to the latest survey snapshot of the sector published last week.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index showed a weakening of export orders and optimism among firms slumped to a 27-month low, with companies citing exchange rate concerns, a slowing economy and uncertainty over leaving the European Union.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2018/11/23: Shoppers are seen at the forever 21 shop taking advantage of the Black Friday deals that many high street stores are offering.
A very busy Black Friday on London's Oxford Street. (Photo by Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) © 2018 SOPA Images LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2018/11/23: Shoppers are seen at the forever 21 shop taking advantage of the Black Friday deals that many high street stores are offering. A very busy Black Friday on London's Oxford Street. (Photo by Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) “Declining output and falling confidence demonstrate that UK businesses have become disillusioned by the government’s approach to ensuring that a business-friendly Brexit will be passed by Parliament,” said Peter Hemington, a partner at BDO.

“We are hopeful that Parliament will prevent the UK from sleepwalking towards a no-deal exit from the EU. Nonetheless, it remains vital that we find a clear resolution urgently so that businesses can begin to make preparations for Britain’s future trading relationships.”

Gallery: The biggest casualties of the UK's continuing high street crisis [LoveMoney]

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