Shoppers avoid the high street as snow continues

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Scotland & ROI start to play catch up but England suffers.

Retail footfall suffered last week suffered last week as bad weather continued to plague the UK.

The number of non-food shoppers dropped 8.8 percent on the same week the previous year, according to Synovate’s Retail Traffic Index. Snow on the last Saturday before Christmas decimated shopping with footfall down 24.3 percent against the same Saturday of 2009.

Last week’s footfall did show an improvement week on week, up 5 .5 percent, but this was less than the 9 percent rise that Synovate had forecast before the snow set in.

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Synovate director Tim Denison said: "At a time when retailers were looking to play catch up, after the snowfall at the start of the month, the latest turn in the weather has dealt another cruel blow. We thought that Christmas 2010 would be remembered for shoppers making the most of pre-VAT increase prices, rather than the impact of a white-out. Retailers will have to hope that the severe weather disappears by the end of this week, allowing shoppers at least one week of indulgence to hit the high streets bargains before the year ends."

After bearing the brunt of most of the wintery weather earlier in the month, Synovate said that shoppers in Scotland and Northern Ireland did play catch. There, retail footfall was up year-on-year by 3.8 percent for the week commencing December 12, and up 30.3 percent against the previous week.

Northern England experienced an 8.6 percent year-on-year drop in footfall for the week, representing a 6.9 percent increase on the previous week. The worse affected region was the Midlands, where footfall for the week was 11.1 percent lower than the same week last year, representing a fall of 1.5 percent from the previous week.

Dennison said: "Online shopping will have played its part last week in recovering some of the ground that would otherwise have been lost. Many retailers will have been thankful for their multichannel route to market, but it won’t save them this week, now that guaranteed deliveries before Christmas Day are over. If some shoppers can’t get to the shops, they simply won’t be able to finish off their present-buying at this late stage. Others will be anxious that the gifts they ordered on line will not arrive in time. When it comes down to it though, I’m sure most of us will accept the situation for what it is and realise there’s more to Christmas than just presents".

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