Why Poland’s Sunday shopper footfall dropped 25% in 2018

ShopperTrak’s data reveals that Polish retailers suffered a 25% Year on Year drop in Sunday traffic in 2018.

The traffic data specialists calculate that total shopper traffic in Poland was down 2.7% comparing 2017 to 2018. This confirms that the Sunday trading restrictions have halted several years of YOY growth in Polish shopper traffic – creating a frustrating situation for retailers across the country.

In 2018, the Sundays affected by the trading ban saw year-on-year shopper traffic fall by 63% on average. Overall, there was a 25% reduction in Sunday traffic in 2018, when compared to 2017. Looking at March-December only, there was a 31% reduction in Sunday traffic.

With stores only open two Sundays a month, trends show the Sunday at the end of the month have been busier, the most likely reason being that payday gives consumers more of an incentive to hit the shops.

ShopperTrak data shows that prior to the ban, YOY Sunday footfall growth was doing well, with average Sunday traffic up +2% compared to average Sunday traffic in 2017.

Retailers mitigate lost sales

“To compensate for fewer days of trading, retailers should concentrate on customer service and engagement as a means of mitigating the decline in traffic,” advises Benjamin Wells-Slagle, Retail Business Consultant, at ShopperTrak.

“By focusing on excellent service, retailers can boost conversion rates, additionally, optimised selling techniques lead to increased basket size. Furthermore, consumers appreciate the personal attention and are more likely to return to a brand where they have had a positive experience. Shoppers have clearly adapted by moving the bulk of their shopping activities to Saturday or Monday.”

The Polish government is reportedly reviewing the impact of its increasingly strict Sunday shopping ban. But in the meantime, retailers must strive to boost sales during the permitted trading hours, by focusing tightly on their conversion rates. “A 1% increase in conversion rate, from 28% to 29% for instance, can lead to an increase in top-line sales by 8% to 10%, which could potentially compensate for the traffic shortfall,” says Wells-Slagle.

Poland’s retail landscape today

  • In March 2018, Poland introduced restrictions to Sunday trading for retailers. There are several exceptions: pharmacies, bakeries, florists and travel retail outlets to name a few.
  • Individually owned/operated stores are also exempt on the condition that the owner is present and not an employee.
  • Initially, the new legislation allowed retailers to be open two Sundays per month.
  • In 2019, it will pass to one Sunday per month, and as it stands, the law will encompass nearly all Sundays from 2020.
  • While the law change was designed to benefit employees, consumer and corporate reactions have been mixed.

Read ShopperTrak’s full analysis here.

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