OFT Blamed for sharp decline in August Bank Holiday footfall
Experian have commented that the UK’s retail parks saw an unusually sharp year on year decline in footfall over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Customers visiting parks across the UK were down by 4.7%, with Experian suggesting that the reason for this was the announcement by the OFT in the previous week of an investigation into pricing strategies by 6 of the UK’s biggest retail park operators.
The retailers claim that the OFT rushed out the announcement without any prior consultation with the sector, a position which the British Retailers Consortium supports.
The Bank Holidays have long been a significant trading period for bulky goods retail park operators. They have tailored their marketing around bank holiday specific pricing, and the claim is that the OFT have significantly damaged income as a result of the timing of their announcement.
Whether or not the investigation bears fruit, and there are many who would comment that the retailers had it coming due to their ‘constant’ sales and unbelievable ‘savings’ on prices which in reality only applied for the statutory minimum period, the OFT amongst other needs in our opinion to consider in future the effect that such announcements have on what is already a fragile sector.
With the likes of Comet, JJB, Allied Carpets, Sofa Workshop, Habitat, Floors 2 Go, MFI, Land of Leather, and Woolworths all having disappeared from our retail parks over the last few years, the last thing the sector needs is more pressure upon an already fragile market.