Britons shunned bank holiday shopping to splurge on leisure spending

Francesca Washtell
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British Retail Sales Fall For 6th Consecutive Month
Springboard said the footfall drop could not be put down solely to rain in some parts of the country (Source: Getty)

Britons shunned shopping on Saturday and Sunday as the number of people visiting high streets, shopping centres and retail parks fell 4.1 per cent compared with last year's August bank holiday.

Analysts at retail research firm Springboard, which published the figures today, had predicted a 6.5 per cent year-on-year increase in total footfall.

However, the overall drop in visitors to UK retail destinations was coupled by a huge increase in evening and late-night shopping.

Footfall fell by just 1.7 per cent between 5pm and 8pm on Saturday and rose by 7.9 per cent at the same time on Sunday.

Read more: Caution prevails as shoppers think twice about big ticket items

Later in the evening, between 8pm and 12am, retail destinations hosted 10.4 per cent more shoppers than last August on Saturday and 12.7 per cent more than last year on Sunday.

The rise in food and drinks outlets at shopping centres in particular lured more late-night shoppers to visit.

Footfall at shopping centres was up 17.1 per cent on Saturday between 8pm and 12am and increased 17.4 per cent on Sunday.

Springboard's insights director Diane Wehrle said the results showed there had been a growth in experience-focused trips out, such as dining and leisure activities, rather than visits "purely to buy products".

Read more: Leisure and hospitality businesses could add £3.2bn to the sector

"Part of this drop will be due to the rain in some parts of the country, but certainly not all of it as rainy summer days are a long-term characteristic in the UK," Wehrle said.

"The fact that footfall improved significantly post-5pm, when it was also raining, highlights the growing demand for leisure activities – hospitality, food and beverage trips."

The data from this weekend strengthens the trend that bank holidays have become less shopping-centric recently, as dips in footfall were also recorded at Easter this year and on Boxing Day.

Britons have also been opting to spend their money on experiences rather than "things" in recent years, boosting the leisure sector to grow to £117bn.

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