The Synovate Retail Traffic Index (RTI) figures showed a better-than-expected rise for the Easter fortnight 2008, March 16th to 29th, far better than even Synovate’s upbeat forecast of 4.1 per cent.
According to Synovate retail psychologist Dr Tim Denison: “Footfall levels over the Easter fortnight are very encouraging. We had forecast them to be significantly higher than last year, but we had certainly not anticipated the figures to be as strong as they finally turned out to be.
“On the back of a better-than-expected March, in both sales and traffic terms, retailers can take some heart. The strong uplift was aided no doubt by some good weather around the country over the full fortnight in contrast to last year when retailers suffered from the combined effects of the earliest Easter since 1913 and some very poor weather.”
The boost was felt particularly in the holiday-destination regions of the country. In Scotland and Northern Ireland retail footfall was up by 14 per cent; in South West England and Wales it was up by 8.4 per cent.
Meanwhile London and the South East saw a retail footfall increase of only 5.4 per cent. This may indicate that, as widely predicted, holidaying in the UK is taking over from trips abroad.
Denison continued: “We should not get too carried away about the strength of the Easter boost. Though stronger than last year, it was the third weakest Easter fortnight of the decade. Despite this welcome uplift, and signs that the decline in demand is beginning to level off, retailers are still acutely aware that consumers are ever more price conscious, ever more choosy and ever more likely to haggle as we look forward to the next likely shopping surge – the May bank holiday weekend (May 2-4th).”