New data from footfall analyst, Experian, shows shopper patterns in Europe chime with the current economic crisis in the euro zone.
The findings for six key European markets are:
Financial pressures have reduced the volume of customers on the country’s high streets in 2011, according to Experian. Government enforced austerity measures and an economy recovering from recession has seen consumer confidence hit a near 20-year low, it reports. A continued rise in online retailing has also affected the growth in footfall. Consumers are increasingly shopping via smart phones and multi-channel retail strategies have become a critical aspect of retail performance in this mature market, said Experian.
The macroeconomic context of the country is continuing to affect Italian shopping centre performance, reports Experian. The figures reflect a stable year-on-year performance; however this masks some important variations, such as the growing polarisation of the sector, based on seasonal trends, it says. Traffic is usually high during the pre-Christmas sales, summer and January sales periods, but the sector is experiencing an increasing weakness during the latter months, Experian said. This dynamic is important for store managers to bear in mind when planning the year ahead, it warns.
Germany has the highest footfall figures in Europe, Experian data reveals. The question is whether the figures would have been even higher if it weren’t for the Euro crisis, which shook consumer confidence at the end of August, the company asks. At this point in the year, shopper footfall and sales data from German Federal Statistical Office shows a drop, corresponding directly with the time at which the crisis took hold, Experian says.
Despite the Polish Statistics Office reporting an increase in spending power in Poland, footfall is down so far this year, according to Experian figures. A relatively good economy and general optimism among consumers are helping Polish retail to grow and make a profit; however, a cold and rainy summer discouraged people from the shopping centres this year, say researchers. Frustratingly, the warm and sunny September had exactly the same effect, they add. Online trading has also impacted footfall, which has led many of the big retailers to launch their products online, including the large fashion companies such as Inditex, LPP, Tatuum and Monnari. The biggest Polish auction portal allegro.pl has also transformed into an online retailer, reports Experian. With Christmas approaching, consumer confidence and increased spending power could help the Polish Index get back into the black, it says.
A tight economic environment is strongly influencing the habits of Spanish consumers, according to Experian. With the highest unemployment rate in the EU and uncertainty about the future, people in Spain are spending cautiously, it reports. Footfall to shopping centres has not significantly decreased since 2010, but what has changed is the way Spanish people spend – they still go to shopping centres but the amount they spend is significantly lower, so the shopping centre is becoming more of a social space, it reports. Consumers are becoming savvier as they gather information about the products they wish to purchase prior to their visit to the shopping centre, so they are more selective and loyal to their favourite brands, claim researchers.
One of the countries that has suffered most as a result of the current economic environment, Portugal has experienced a strong decrease in consumption, reports Experian. Banco de Portugal recently published the Autumn 2011 Economic Bulletin, with forecasts for the Portuguese economy for the last part of 2011 and for 2012. It forecasts a 2.2% contraction of the Portuguese economy for 2012 further to a reduction of 1.9% in 2011. This would indicate further caution amongst consumers and potentially fewer visits to shopping centres ahead, predict researchers.