Black Friday: London footfall up 13 per cent as Brits sniff out deals

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 15: Selfridges department store is lit up at dusk on Oxford Street on August 15, 2023 in London, England. The 1.2 mile stretch, one of London’s premier shopping destinations, is suffering. Currently 16% of retail properties stand empty, crime levels are rising, there is a surge in rough sleepers and a 59% decline in footfall from before the pandemic. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Central London saw a 13 per cent week-on-week jump in footfall this morning as shoppers flocked to the West-End to sniff out some Black Friday deals, in a much needed boost for retailers.

The sales bonanza is an important day in the retail calendar as it kicks starts the start of the festive shopping season.

According to new figures from MRI Software as of 12pm today, central London saw a 1.7 per cent increase year-on-year in footfall as customers loosened their purse strings and did some pre-Christmas buying. 

Jenni Matthews, marketing and insights director, MRI Software, said: “Regionally, central London has seen the most significant rise in footfall today at 13.1 per cent and is also 1.5 per cent higher than last year which indicates that the recent decision by Jeremy Hunt to not reintroduce a tax-free shopping policy for tourists has not dampened shoppers spirits this Black Friday.

“This may well be due to consumers already having plans to travel to the city or regional cities outside of London, where footfall rose by 7.2 per cent for shopping or leisure reasons.”

She added: “For many people, payday will have fallen today which may be the final payday before Christmas therefore today’s Black Friday sales will provide them with ample opportunity to grab some festive bargains, which again is positive news for retailers.”

However, the figure was still down 26 per cent on pre-pandemic levels as physical shopping continues to lose out to its online rival.

It comes as unseasonable weather in both the summer and autumn battered the majority of retailers’ earnings over the first and second quarter of the year.

Erin Brookes, head of retail and consumer at Alvarez and Marsal, said: “With sales very soft in October, retailers have been hoping that now in mid-November, the Christmas shopping would have begun in earnest.

“With some retailers advertising ‘Black November’ as an extended discounting season, it will increase price competition with heavy pre-Christmas discounting required to lure a shopper that is increasingly making careful decisions about where to spend.

She added: “While targeted promotions that offer personalised products are likely to be successful in winning over consumers, retailers will have to work hard over the next few weeks to win their share of what looks likely to be a smaller overall consumer spend by volume, even though values remain elevated.”


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