The latest Retail Traffic Index (RTI) figures from research group SPSL show that UK retail footfall in the first week proper of Christmas shopping (Sunday 25th November to Saturday 1st December) closely tracked last year’s (Sunday 26th November 2006 to Saturday 2nd December 2006), being up just 0.01%.
However, to demonstrate that Christmas shopping has really started at last, the number of people out shopping was up 11.2% week on week.
SPSL’s retail psychologist, Dr Tim Denison, commented; “Once again these figures are slightly better than we had expected. Admittedly the week came at exactly the right time for most people’s salaries to hit their bank accounts but there does seem to be a growing attitude amongst consumers that all the negative pressures can be ignored until the New Year, when they may be forced to cut their shopping trips.
“It’s not just about consumer attitudes,” adds Denison, “the stores have played a big part too. Those running discount voucher promotions such as Selfridges, Gap, Thresher and Borders and those offering money back vouchers such as Argos will have helped stimulate Christmas trade. Our opinion, based on a detailed analysis of more than a decade of footfall figures is that Christmas 2007 is shaping up to be fairly decent for retailers with the strong caveat that the New Year may well bring much harder times sans any interest rate relief from the MPC at the Bank of England.
"I suggest that one factor that may still come into play before Christmas, though, is if people start hitting their credit buffers, in the wake of financial providers tightening their reins. For some, Christmas shopping ambitions may be taken out of their hands this year.”