Latest footfall figures underline that Britain’s shoppers are getting on with the certainties of everyday living despite the uncertainties of Brexit, with the lowest annual decline in non-food footfall in three years.
The latest statistics from Ipsos Retail Performance reveal that non-food footfall fell -0.8% in the UK compared to the previous year, making it the lowest decline in 36 months, excluding seasonal adjustments. Further figures showed that year-on-year deficits over three months have declined by -2.2% over the period of November 2018 to January 2019, compared to -11.0% in March-May 2018
January’s figures marked the lowest fall back from the Christmas period since 2008, with footfall in the first month of 2019 down -26.5% compared to December.
Ipsos Retail Performance, the global retail insights agency, 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.
Commenting on the optimistic figures, Dr Tim Denison, Director of Ipsos Retail Performance commented:
“Shopping was bolstered by a combination of continued falling inflation rates, which now stands below the Bank of England’s marker of 2%, and increasing wages which, at 3.4%, are growing at the strongest rate since the financial crisis. Households will not only be replenishing their depleted savings with this extra income, but are also spending some of it on the high street.”
The region with the weakest year-on-year figures for the sixth consecutive month was South West England and Wales, recording a decline in footfall of -3.9%. Elsewhere, stores across Northern England, Scotland & Northern Ireland, and The Midlands all experienced a growth in footfall against January 2018.
Looking in greater detail at the footfall figures, the first week was the formative time of the month, when traffic rose year-on-year by +6.4% and across all regions of the country. While the first week did fall before New Year’s Eve this year, this wasn’t the sole bearing on the positive results.
Considering the positive start to the year, Dr Denison added:
“With the year-on-year gap in both store sales and traffic trends narrowing every month since May last year, one would be forgiven for thinking that British consumers are cocking a snook at parliamentarians over the Brexit debacle, and getting on with the day-to-day.”
“Certainly January shoppers had one eye on bagging a bargain, while they had the cash to do so. However, the fact that the trend data has shown signs of strengthening for some time now indicates that shopping behaviour at the start of the year is not the consequence of consumers developing a siege mentality.”
He concluded that while sentiment still swirls around in the Brexit fog, it is likely to be events such as the pauses in car production across some plants that are likely to lead most quickly to significant changes in consumer behaviour.
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