Shopper numbers down 3.2%


Shopper numbers down 3.2%
Shoppers steered clear of the high street this Christmas – with numbers down 3.2 per cent over December.

The Retail Traffic Index (RTI) figures from analysts SPSL show while shopper numbers were up 31.5 per cent on December when compared to November, they fell significantly and ahead of estimates in the run-up to Christmas.

Initially the month preformed well – with shopper numbers broadly matching those recorded last year in the first half of the month.

However, in the final push for Christmas consumers stayed at home.

"Christmas 2007 really was a stop-and-start, up-and-down rollercoaster. There were days in the run-up that were far busier than their equivalents in 2006, but there were just as many days that were hugely disappointing," said Dr Tim Denison at SPSL.

"[This year]will be noted both for its unpredictability but also for retailer responsiveness and their determination to get cash in the tills before the effects of the much-heralded ‘credit-crunch’ kicks in."

He went on to explain retailers should be ready to settle for the outcome of Christmas.

"Final numbers weren’t quite as strong as we had hoped, but the outlook for Christmas had been far bleaker in late autumn. Over the next few weeks, as trading figures are announced, we shall see just how much margin retailers had to give away in order to engage the shopper."

The SPSL figures also show a record number of shoppers on December 27th – pointing to Brits heading out to the sales en masse.

However, Howard Archer at Global Insight suggested this might be "the last hurrah for many consumers before they batten down the hatches in the face of serious headwinds.

"We suspect the strong early showing in the sales is a consequence of increasingly pressurised and price conscious shoppers being very keen to take advantage of genuine bargains and treat themselves while they can."

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