For the second consecutive month, the number of shoppers entering non-food stores in the UK has risen year-on-year.
Following a modest 0.7% improvement in December, January’s Retail Traffic Index (RTI), published by Ipsos Retail Performance, rose by 3.3% on 2013.
“2014 has started very differently to last year, when there was little justification to be optimistic and footfall continued its downward slide month-on-month, said Dr Tim Denison, Director of Retail Intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance. “January 2014 is the first time since October 2009 that the RTI has recorded year-on-year growth in two consecutive months, hinting that shoppers are beginning to get up off their knees.
“Heavy snowfall in mid-month curtailed shoppers’ expeditions last January, but retail footfall also rose in the first fortnight of this month against last year. It’s right to remain cautious; after all, disposable incomes are still under considerable strain and haven’t changed noticeably for some time. Nonetheless there’s a sniff in the air of sweeter times coming our way.
“Shoppers seem willing to spend a bit more, as long as they are reassured that they are getting value for money. But we are a long way away from escape velocity, when discounting become redundant. One of the tricky challenges retailers will face later this year is how to wean shoppers off their everyday diet of price promotions. 2014 has started brighter than we had expected. The question is: what growth rate is affordable to the UK shopper in the short term?”