Good weather and rising consumer confidence should help DIY shopping locations to shine over the Easter bank holiday weekend.

Good weather and rising consumer confidence should help DIY shopping locations to shine over the Easter bank holiday weekend.

The Easter bank holiday weekend is traditionally the most important trading period for retailers after Christmas, with many relying on it for a much-needed sales boost.

It is also one of the most important times of year for home improvement sales, as shoppers take a second look at home maintenance and stock up on DIY goods.

With this in mind, out-of-town retail parks – destinations which regularly draw shoppers looking to purchase bulkier DIY products and furniture – will be the biggest retail successes over the period in terms of both footfall and spend. 

These destinations are set to see an increase of 6.1% in footfall over the weekend compared with last year, with the biggest rise on Good Friday at 9.5% and Easter Saturday at 7%.

These forecasts take into account analysis of the trend in footfall performance over Easter since 2008, as well as a range of factors which are key to determining consumer behaviour: key economic indicators, levels of consumer confidence, the dates on which Easter falls and, inevitably, the weather.

Increasing house prices mean that homeowners are actively selling, improving their home for sale or simply upgrading or extending their existing home. This has been bolstered by the increased feeling of wealth that typically occurs when house prices rise, leaving shoppers more open to investing in the right materials. 

Greater stability in jobs, with more disposable income, has also boosted consumer confidence markedly over the last year which is a key element in consumers’ decision to spend, encouraging them to carry out larger, more ambitious projects in the home and to make higher-spend purchases.

Finally, milder weather conditions will make an impact – despite forecasts for Easter Sunday to be hit by rain, Easter this year is set to be dry and temperate overall, creating the ideal conditions for projects around the home both inside and out. As it is traditionally a big gardening weekend, retail parks with a strong gardening offer will pull in the crowds.

In addition, retail parks are increasingly making themselves more attractive to shoppers, with substantial investments to improve the quality of the shopping experience. This includes making them more experiential with the installation of cycle tracks, allowing shoppers to try bikes before buying, and the introduction of more coffee shops and restaurants to boost the leisure offering.

This in itself is a stumbling block for shopping centres – while footfall will likely increase in these destinations by 3.4% over the weekend, the lack of variety in their offer will limit their attractiveness to shoppers over a period which is very much about indulging in shopping as a leisure trip.

In contrast, many high streets will be planning Easter parades and events in order to tempt shoppers away from retail parks. This, in combination with the expected good weather, means footfall will likely increase by 7.4% over the whole weekend, with the largest uplift on Easter Monday at 9% – after the rush to out-of-town locations has peaked.

The Friday to Monday period will be a telling time, and retailers will be pulling out all the stops to ensure they draw in and keep the crowds.

The outlook for high streets is encouraging, and attractions that encourage shoppers to not only make the trip into town, but to stay and enjoy the atmosphere, will provide a welcome lift.   

  • Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard