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Q1 Footfall Review

It's unsurprising to learn that the foot traffic levels during the first quarter of 2023 remain lower than usual. Due to increased expenses, shoppers prioritise necessities rather than luxuries and unnecessary costs. Compared to the same period in the previous year, the overall foot traffic for Q1 has decreased by 3%.

Graph showing footfall through q1 of 2023. Peaks at New Year and Valentine's. Otherwise mainly below average.

However, the news isn't all doom and gloom.

Although retailers have had significant periods of below-average footfall, there have been some significant peaks compared to 2022.

Retail holidays

New Year and Valentine's Day attracted a strong peak in shoppers. Shoppers are being more frugal day-to-day but splashing out in the moments that matter to them.

This raises a key marketing question: when is the best time to run a campaign?

  • In the key moments when shoppers are keen to spend?

  • In the day-to-day, when shoppers are harder to grab?

Arguably, grabbing shoppers in the day-to-day is a much safer strategy. Relying primarily on retail holidays is a risk – Mother's Day, for example, experienced a -5% drop in footfall. Conveying the value of products to shoppers can create more stable footfall levels throughout the year.


Bar chart showing footfall in different months broken down by sectors

The Health & Beauty sector has remained consistently above last year's levels, which has been aided this year by a return of non-covid seasonal illnesses, gifts for Valentine's and Mother's Day, and the UK Sephora opening, which caused other beauty retailers to bolster their marketing.

Meanwhile, tech and entertainment footfall is below average, as consumers avoid spending on non-essentials. The first quarter of 2022 was still feeling the aftershocks of covid isolations, so an increased focus on both tech for working from home and a desire for outdoor entertainment overly inflated last year's figures.

Days of the week

Bar graph showing footfall throughout the week compared to last year

Across the week, Sundays and Fridays have been much quieter than at the same point last year, whilst other days have remained more stable. In February, Sunday footfall was -9% below the levels of February last year – indicating a real opportunity for retailers to encourage more footfall on this day.

Part of the lower levels of footfall across these days compared to the rest of the week could be attributed to lower levels of shopping as a fun day out – instead, shoppers are grabbing essentials when they're in the area.

What can we take away from these numbers?

The numbers may be low, but retailers have many opportunities to increase levels in the next quarter. Much like Christmas, shoppers are spending – they're just being more cautious about when and where. Marketing focusing on providing value and more robust targeting towards a relevant audience can fill in some of these footfall troughs and build footfall back to previous levels.

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