UK shopper numbers drop in November amid soaring cost of living

Many of the UK's big cities had the biggest fall in consumers

Shoppers carry bags as they do their Christmas shopping on Oxford Street in London, Britain December 22, 2017. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
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The soaring cost of living has been blamed for consumers cutting their Christmas spending in November as there was a drop in people hitting the shops.

UK shopper numbers were 1.5 percentage points worse than October and 13.3 a month below pre-pandemic levels, BRC-Sensormatic IQ data showed.

High street shopper numbers were down 13.6 per cent on November 2019, two percentage points down on last month’s rate and worse than the three-month average decline of 12.3 per cent.

Retail parks had a relatively shallow decline of 4.2 per cent but shopping centres had 23.2 per cent fewer visits than November 2019.

“Footfall took another stumble as the cost-of-living crisis put off some consumers from visiting the shops in November," said British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson.

"Others opted to stay home due to the scattering of rail strikes, or chose the World Cup over shopping visits.

“Many big cities were particularly hard hit, with Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester all seeing the biggest drops in footfall since January."

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“Rising inflation and low consumer confidence continue to dampen spending expectations in the run-up to Christmas.

"Despite retailers doing their best to keep prices as low as possible for their customers, financial concerns are trumping spending for many households.

“But with three more weeks to Christmas, retailers hope that the festive spirit may still give a welcome boost to both footfall and retail sales.”

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Andy Sumpter, from Sensormatic Solutions, said: “As retailers readied themselves for the start of peak trading ‘proper’, November brought a slew of disruption and opportunity, almost in equal measure.

“While train strikes did spell disruption to many, concerns that the untested format of a ‘Christmas World Cup’ could take the shine off retailers’ Black Friday efforts proved unfounded, with the results in-store bettering the results on the field for England and Wales.

“With footfall on Black Friday surpassing 2021 levels, retailers will be hoping this signposts a resilience in consumer demand, even in the context of the rising cost of living, as they head into the critical December Christmas trading period.”

Updated: December 02, 2022, 12:01 AM