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Shopper numbers for September hold firm

The Northern Rock crisis failed to hit the high street as hard as expected last month despite fears that widespread consumer panic would damage sales.

The number of shoppers on the British high streets in September showed a 0.7% drop against the same time last year according to figures released today by shopper traffic consultants FootFall.

In the North East, Yorkshire, Humberside and the West Midlands, shopper numbers rose between 2.0% and 2.8% compared to last year but other regions including London saw a fall in numbers. The capital saw 1.3% less shoppers while Scotland was down 1.0%. South Wales and the west of England also fell by 3.5%.

The slight national drop is, according to the report's authors, typical for the run up to the festive trading season. But the national change for September against figures for August this year showed a continuing falling trend with 2.3% less people out shopping.

Successive interest rate rises have clearly hit some regions harder than others as the effects of differences in disposable income levels and house prices become more pronounced.

FootFall spokesman, Martin Davies, said: "The UK high street is well and truly on the starting blocks for the Christmas build up. But retailers will undoubtedlybe preparing for a more tentative breed of Christmas shopper following the year's interest rate rises and recent banking upheavals."

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