Shopper levels rise

Retail Traffic Index figures confirm footfall was up year-on-year during Christmas week and in the post-Christmas sales period.
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The figures released by Synovate Retail Performance confirm the number of non-food shopping trips made in the UK from December 21st to 27th was up on 2007 by 3.2 per cent. This represents the first increase on 2007 in nine weeks (since w/c October 26th).

The best of the regions was Scotland and Northern Ireland, where retail traffic was up 4.9 per cent on the same week in 2007.

The last minute Christmas surge that began on Friday December 19th carried through to Christmas Eve, when retail footfall was 0.3 per cent higher than last year.

Newly released data for the period after Christmas shows the day after Boxing Day, (Saturday the 27th) turned out to be the busiest shopping day of the year, with retail footfall levels up 3.6 per cent on the previous week.

The day’s footfall was also up by 3.5 per cent on December 22nd, which until then had been 2008’s busiest day in the shops all year, as recorded by Synovate. It was, however, slightly quieter than last year (down by 1.8 per cent), but this was partly reflective of more retailers beginning their sales earlier this year.

Synovate retail psychologist Dr Tim Denison explained, “After an extremely lacklustre mid-month period, Christmas week finally produced the last minute rush of shoppers that retailers had hoped for, but not all had expected.

“It was the final six days before Christmas, when shopper numbers were overall 2.2 per cent higher than last year, which made all the difference.

Denison continued: “Retailers will be hoping that the busy start to their post-Christmas sales continues at a pace through the current week, but I think it will be conditional both on the quality of merchandise on sale and the level of discounting. Shoppers are by now very conscious of the economic downturn and its likely impact on them personally.“

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