Shoppers pace themselves in run-up to Christmas

Indications are that the Christmas trading period will be stronger than retailers have experienced over recent years, according to Ipsos Retail Performance.

The Retail Traffic Index (RTI), compiled by Ipsos Retail Performance, registered a year-on-year drop of 7.1% across the UK in October. The numbers of trips to non-food stores were also 2.2% fewer than in September.

Year-on-year footfall comparisons were mixed across UK regions. Scotland and Northern Ireland was the only region that recorded a narrowing of the gap from September. The region also stood alone as the only one to record month-on-month growth in October. Footfall figures in The Midlands continued to struggle the most, seeing double digit year-on-year decline.

“We shouldn’t be too surprised that footfall took a bit of a tumble in October,” said Dr Tim Denison, Director of Retail Intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance. “The announcement of significant energy price rises rocked consumer confidence, and made many re-evaluate their personal financial situations again, reflecting the frailty of the consumer’s economic recovery. Any factor like this, that further hits household pockets when average weekly earnings remain steadfastly static, causes householders extra angst and an immediate response.

He continued: “The October figures suggest that shoppers are taking early action and putting money aside to ensure they have enough spending power [for Christmas]. Shoppers believe their hard-earned cash will stretch further as we go into the festive season, as more bargains are to be had on the high street, so many seem content to throttle back their spending until then. The start of the cat-and-mouse season has begun early this year.”

Ipsos Retail Performance commented that whilst shoppers are expected to stay sitting on their hands in November, the indications are that the Christmas trading period will be stronger than retailers have experienced over recent years.

“We can expect an intriguing eight weeks ahead of us,” added Dr Tim Denison.

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