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Retail Traffic

Despite the Black Friday sales, retailers across the UK suffered from a disappointing November, as year-on-year footfall over the month fell back -3.8% on 2014.

Ipsos Retail Performance, the global retail and footfall consultant, compiles the Retail Traffic Index (RTI), which is derived from the number of individual shoppers entering over 4,000 non-food retail stores across the UK.

Store footfall climbed +4.5% on October as shoppers started to gear up for Christmas, however this month-on-month increase was smaller than in the previous two years. The poor results were felt across the UK, with the falling year-on-year traffic apparent in all regions. The worst affected retail outlets were in Scotland & Northern Ireland, where footfall was -8% below last year’s level.

Shoppers were again out in force on Black Friday itself, with a marginal increase of +0.3% on last year. This was largely due to an increase in participation by retailers.

Up to a fortnight before Black Friday, shoppers were delaying trips to stores, mindful that it was just around the corner,” commented Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance.

On the day itself footfall was marginally higher than last year, but the uplift was not enough to compensate for the disappointing start to the month. The promotions this year were generally less generous to shoppers, with retailers determined not to make the same mistakes of last year when the unexpectedly high levels of demand threatened margins.

Each week of the month was quieter than the corresponding weeks of 2014, including Black Friday week, when footfall was lower by -2.2%.

Dr Denison continued:

If we want to see retailers fulfill the potential of the golden quarter and deliver healthy results, footfall levels will have to ramp up with almost immediate effect. Next week’s figures will provide an early indicator of how Christmas will pan out.

Many retailers are taking a different approach this year, with promotions being drip-fed throughout December, rather than flicking the ‘sale on’ switch, if demand falters. If this approach achieves early success we could see a very different pattern to Christmas shopping this year, with the number of trips made each week growing at a constant rate rather than gathering exponential pace closer the closer to Christmas we get.”

Despite the poor November, Ipsos Retail Performance is forecasting that store footfall will rise by +1.3% in December on last year.

The next update on footfall will cover the first week of December and will be released on Tuesday 8th December 2015.

Footfall change: November 2015 vs November 2014

Scotland & Northern Ireland -8.0%
North of England -6.1%
The Midlands -0.8%
South West England & Wales -3.1%
South East England & London -3.6%

Footfall change: November 2015 vs October 2015
Scotland & Northern Ireland +3.1%
North of England +8.5%
The Midlands +2.4%
South West England & Wales +3.4%
South East England & London +3.9%

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