Footfall shows stability in July

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Synovate RTI shows footfall in non-food sector up compared to June.

Synovate’s Retail Traffic Index, which measures through-the-door shopper numbers in the non-food sector, showed a 2.5 percent year-on-year decline in July 2010, but an 8.1 percent increase on June’s footfall. This compares to corresponding figures of -2.1 percent and +5.4 percent respectively in June.

Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence for Synovate, said: "A semblance of stability has returned to shopping activity over the last couple of months and we expect it to continue into August. Footfall levels remain lower than last year by a couple of points, but they have recovered from the worrying slide we experienced in April and May. Shoppers are holding their summer station, which in itself, gives us reassurance about July’s sales figures, which we expect to be broadly on a par with those of June."

There were significant regional variations to the figures, however, which have also remained constant for the last couple of months. The worst hit areas were Scotland and Northern Ireland, where non-food footfall has been struggling throughout 2010, being 6.6 percent lower in July this year compared to last. Figures for South-west England and Wales were also much lower than the national average, four percent down on last July’s footfall.

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Dr Denison commented: "We are all acutely aware that public sector jobs cuts are on their way. Whether this cloud is beginning to impact directly on the regional splits in shopping traits is difficult to say, but towns and cities within these regions, such as Belfast, Aberdeen, Dundee, Swansea and Plymouth are among the places with the highest percentages of public sector jobs in their workforces. Perhaps lower footfall in these areas is a consequence of people there now starting to confront the stark realisation of unemployment. The linkage between attitude and shopping behaviour is still something that is absent at the national level however.

“Consumer confidence has slipped for its sixth consecutive month and, according to one metric, is at an 11 month low. In contrast, although year-on-year footfall levels have been planted in negative territory for nine months now, the trend is not downwards. The same is also true of retail sales data, as well as the latest GDP figures, which continue to record positive growth in the service sector. It leads me to conclude that, though the majority of consumers are more anxious about their quality of life over the next 12 months, this is not being reflected widely across the country in our shopping behaviour. The triggers for behavioural change have yet to be pulled.”

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