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Footfall hits 12-month low

Footfall at retailers across the country dropped dramatically in November as freezing temperatures kept shoppers indoors, with a “slow burn” Christmas period predicted.

According to market research firm Synovate, footfall at non-food stores in November dropped by 5.5% compared to footfall seen in November last year, with the year-on-year comparison at a 12-month low. Footfall compared with October also dropped by 1.1%. The data suggested there is no rush yet for buying on the high street before the VAT rise comes in January.

Northern England saw the worst year-on-year change with a drop of 7.3%, while the Midlands and Wales, and the Southwest saw drops of 6.8% and 6.4% respectively. London and the southeast saw the largest fall from October, with a drop of 1.7%.

Synovate director of retail intelligence and retail psychologist Tim Denison said: “Heavy internet promotions and the first rise in clothing and footwear inflation since 1992 may have contributed to the nation’s ongoing, sedentary state, but whatever the principal causes fewer shoppers braved the elements and the darker nights. Neither the stimuli of Halloween nor Guy Fawkes night created more trips to the shops this year against last.”

Synovate has predicted a 26.2% rise in footfall for December compared to November. However, Synovate has forecasted that retail traffic for the month will be 4.2% lower than the same period last year.

Denison added: “Progressively over the years we have seen three trends emerging at Christmas: more people doing their gift and price researching on-line, more people buying their presents on-line and more shoppers leaving their shopping later.” Denison said he expected this would be a “slow burn” Christmas, “possibly ending in a ‘flash spree’, making life pretty tortuous for retailers.”

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