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Footfall slump piles on Christmas fears

Footfall fell back 3.5% for the week commencing November 26 against last year, prompting further fears that Christmas sales will be a wash out this year.

Although footfall was up 5.6% week-on-week, shopper numbers against last year continued to plummet according to data monitor company Footfall.

Department stores fared slightly better with shopper numbers behind just 0.7% and retail park footfall dipped by just 0.8%.

Martin Davies from Experian, which owns Footfall, said: “With three weekends to go before Christmas, the UK retail landscape is becoming more complicated than ever, with a real mix of winners and losers as shopping behaviour continues to diversify. Although the figures suggest a dismal start to December for the high street, there is still a chance for a share of the consumer pound for retailers elsewhere. Retail parks have seen a fall in shopper numbers of only 0.8% compared to last year, which is a significant improvement on the national picture. For those who do visit the high street, department stores are proving to be the most attractive destination, with consumers showing a marked preference for stores which can provide a range of goods ‘under one roof.’"

Davies added: “The figures suggest that repeat Christmas shopping trips are now a thing of the past, as consumers favour selective shopping, typically in places where they can make the maximum purchases at one time for extra convenience. Additionally, the figures suggest that any degree of urgency attached to Christmas shopping has also disappeared as cash-strapped consumers are more willing to wait for bargains, which means the pressure is mounting on retailers to add deeper discounts than ever before."

“All in all, the shopper figures show a worryingly bleak start to the month and it is likely that while Jingle Bells may be playing on the high streets, alarm bells will be sounding for many retailers if they do not increase by next week,” Davies said.

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