Parents across the world are sighing with relief as their children return to school following the summer break. Thousands of retailers and shopping centres will be doing the same, for the school holidays often disrupt consumer traffic patterns in an unpredictable manner.
How did this year’s long vacation impact retail footfall – and what can businesses learn from it? We delve into 2015’s trends using exclusive ShopperTrak data:
Holiday traffic – the early trends
Internationally, we saw a change in consumer traffic throughout the school holidays. In the week after term ended, footfall rose across most regions – varying from a +3% increase in Hong Kong to +15% in both Austria and Poland.
This is most likely due to parents and children filling the first week of the holidays with activities like shopping, and stocking up on playthings or summer clothes before their annual vacation.
Interestingly, in Germany, the impact of school holidays on retail depended on when schools broke up. Those finishing term during June only generated a +2% rise in footfall, whereas consumer activity increased +9% when the remaining schools broke up in July.
The only major exception to the upward trend was France, where retail traffic fell -24%, before rising by +10% the following week. Perhaps French schoolchildren needed a little R&R before hitting the shops – or left it to the last minute before August’s grand depart!
Interestingly, footfall patterns diverged in the middle of the summer holiday, with regions behaving in different ways. Austria, Hong Kong and Poland all saw retail traffic fall, for example, as many households depart for their summer vacation.
Consumer activity in the UK remained fairly static, while footfall in France, Germany and Italy rose by as much as +6% – perhaps reflecting the influx of foreign tourists. France is the most visited country in the world according to the UN World Tourism Organisation, with Italy and Germany also featuring in the top 10.
The back to school rush
There was another sharp peak in retail activity during the summer, and this occurred during the week before the new school year commenced.
Naturally, the end of the holiday period generates an uplift in footfall, as families return from holiday and stock up on resources for the term ahead. What’s intriguing is the regional variations; Poland, France and Germany experienced the biggest uplift, with footfall rising +12-15%, while Hong Kong, Italy and the UK saw a modest increase of 5% or less.
While it’s too late to do anything about this year’s school holiday shopping trends, there’s plenty of time for retailers and shopping centres to start preparing for the Christmas vacation, provided they have a detailed footfall analysis solution in place.
To find out how your business can prepare for fluctuations in traffic generated by school term times, visit our Site Analytics page.