LONDON — Selfridges and Harrods may have seen record numbers of shoppers gathering outside their stores ahead of the annual Boxing Day sales on Dec. 26, but many British brick-and-mortar retailers suffered on the first day of the post-Christmas sales season, due partly to the impact of Black Friday.
According to Springboard, which gathers footfall and consumer data, Britain’s High Street retailers witnessed “challenging trading” conditions on Dec. 26, with footfall decreasing 4.5 percent year-over-year. “This was one of the most challenging Boxing Days that brick-and-mortar stores have seen since Springboard first published Boxing Day activity in 2012,” the company said.
“This undoubtedly reflects the extent of discounting that has already occurred, particularly over Black Friday, and also the growth in online trade this year,” said Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard.
“In addition to this, Black Friday now rivals Boxing Day in terms of the volume of footfall generated and so its influence as a key trading day in the retail calendar has been diluted. The extent of discounting, together with the fact that stores still account for around 80 percent of total spend, and that activity in brick-and-mortar stores declined, suggests that sales will be lower this year on what was traditionally the key shopping day of the year,” she said.
Jace Tyrrell, chief executive officer of the New West End Company, which represents retailers around Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street, said Chinese shoppers, in particular, had helped boost takings to 20 million pounds by midday on Tuesday, with luxury purchases such as handbags and winter fashion in high demand.
He said the company was expecting 50 million pounds to go through West End cash registers by the close of Tuesday, driven by discounts of up to 70 percent, which will continue through the week.
While High Street shops were suffering from a fall in customer numbers, Westfield Stratford in east London had a different sort of problem on its hands on Tuesday.
According to media reports, 11 people were arrested after a large fight broke out outside the shopping center. Two police officers were taken to the hospital with injuries, while others confiscated knives from members of the crowd after conducting searches.
Westfield confirmed there was a “minor disturbance” in the early afternoon of Tuesday, which was resolved. “The center was not evacuated, and is trading normally,” the company said.
Harrods said this week it had seen one of its biggest crowds to date on Dec. 26, while Selfridges confirmed that it banked more than 4 million pounds in the first three hours of its Boxing Day sale.
Selfridges said the sales took place across all its stores and online and that figures were slightly up on 2016.