Discount retailers are more likely to be effective anchor stores in the UK’s high streets and shopping centres than traditional department stores, according to a new analysis that quantifies the effect of opening a Primark store.

For the Financial Times, the Springboard consultancy analysed footfall at 18 locations where the clothing retailer has opened a store in the past three years; it found that footfall typically rose almost 48% on the day of opening compared with the same day in the previous year.

“Even over the month as a whole, the uplift in footfall was significant,” reported insights director Diane Wehrle: “18.3% from the same month in the previous year.”

And the effect is not just short term, she added. Six months after a Primark opening the average footfall in the surrounding area was 7% greater than in the same month a year earlier – and that stands in contrast to an average 2.6% decline across all UK retail destinations.

In some ways that shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Primark doesn’t sell online and needs to drive footfall, given that it’s a low-margin business that needs to shift high volumes. But it’s less obvious that discount retailers like it and TK Maxx find themselves in demand as anchor tenants.

It’s a trend that is likely to intensify as retailers that traditionally fulfilled that role find themselves in trouble. The past year has seen closures at Debenhams, the sale of House of Fraser with closures likely there too, while Marks & Spencer’s ongoing problems at its clothing and home business have contributed to the planned closure of more than 100 high street stores.

The findings come as Springboard’s regular assessment of UK retailers in the post-Christmas week showed footfall down by an average of 4%, Retail Gazette reported.

It also appears that Boxing Day is no longer the key shopping date – the 27th and 28th registered higher footfall – as consumers increasingly use the day primarily for leisure purposes, such as going out to eat or to the cinema, or combine this with a visit to retail stores rather than it being the main focus of their trip.

Sourced from Financial Times, Retail Gazette; additional content by WARC staff