Experian Footfall Index: December traffic driven by retailer discounts

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Regional footfall breakdown

Regional footfall breakdown

Shopper activity during December 2011 increased by 3% compared to December 2010 driven by retailers’ promotions and heavy discounting, the Experian Footfall Index reveals.

The positive growth was an expected result given the adverse weather conditions of snow throughout the UK during the same month in 2010, said researchers.

The pension strike in December 2011 saw public sector workers and others who took the day off work to care for their children use the spare time to shop and there was a 38% increase in footfall recorded compared to the same day in 2010, said Experian.

Experian said the UK National FootFall Index in 2011 has been consistently lagging behind 2010, reporting levels down by around -2% to -3%.

With increased internet shopping from computers and smart phones, the traditional six-week seasonal shopping period on the high street has largely been replaced with a last minute rush pre- and post-Christmas with shoppers taking advantage of in-store promotions, it said.

As the year ended, December’s results showed a year-on-year growth for week 51 of 11.7% compared to the same week last year.

However, Experian said the outlook for January remains worrying considering the growth in footfall for December 2011 was largely due to an underperformance in 2010.

It said the first challenge for retailers’ in this austere environment is to hold consumer interest past the spring stock turnaround, as reality kicks in and consumers find themselves back at work and facing the first credit card bills of the year.