April showers poised to dampen retail store footfall, latest Ipsos Index shows

Wet and cold weather, combined with financial pressures on household incomes, has dampened the expectation of an increase in shopper footfall in April on March 2012, according to Ipsos Retail Performance.

Its Retail Traffic Index (RTI), which monitors the volume of shoppers in non-food stores across the UK, stood at an all time low in February, but rallied in March, with the footfall national average up 6.4% on the previous month, but down by 3.4% year-on-year.  

“March footfall brought some welcome respite for retailers, especially those selling products which people naturally go out and buy if spring is in the air and they want to tidy up their garden, do a bit of DIY or invite friends around for a barbecue,” said Tim Denison, head of retail Intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance. 

“If we had also been basking in sunshine this month, then the strong upward trend may have continued, but the inclement weather is washing away those hopes.”

However, the weather isn’t the only reason why consumers are avoiding their daily or weekly shopping trips, said researchers.

“Fuel prices are at record levels,” said Denison. “Energy prices continue to rise and people are now dipping into their savings as well as their disposable income – this is not a good time for them, nor the retailers who normally benefit from their much-needed custom.”

The RTI footfall figures for January and February 2012 had already shown retail had started slowly this year, but despite signs of an improvement in March, the outlook remains grim.

“Spring, good weather, and forthcoming events including the Games and Queen’s Jubilee can’t come soon enough for retailers,” said Denison.