By Daniel Hunter

Retail footfall grew by 7.9% in June over May, according to the latest monthly figures released by Ipsos Retail Performance.

The Retail Traffic Index (RTI), a measure of retail footfall in non-food stores throughout the UK, was down by 5.4% on June 2012, though this represented a stronger performance than the 5.7% year-to-date deficit versus H1 2012.

“We saw another strong rise in store footfall in the month,” comments Dr Tim Denison of Ipsos Retail Performance.

“June contained two of the three busiest weeks of the year so far thanks to the arrival of summer weather and the start of the Sales. Slowly but surely we are seeing consumer confidence improve, which is now beginning to filter through to the high street.

"Positive GDP growth in Quarter One and talk of improved growth over Quarter Two certainly adds to a sense of cautious optimism and a belief that we are moving up a gear. Confidence will grow progressively, if we continue to see stability in key data sets.”

Ipsos’ Economic Optimism Index improved for the third month in a row. In June, just as many people thought that the economy will improve over the next year as thought it will get worse, the most positive rating since July 2010.

“There are no quick fixes though,” admits Denison, ”and it will remain a long journey for retailing. This is borne out in the year-on-year figures. June was always going to be a tough comparison month. Last year we celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and many people extended their bank holiday break to the whole week. The month’s 5.4% decline was in fact better than the 6.6% drop that we had forecast. Nonetheless, retail footfall in Quarter Two ended up 6.1% down on 2012, a wider gap than the -5.3% in Quarter One.”

As with May, retail footfall was strongest in London and South East England. There the RTI registered a 10.6% gain on May and a year-on-year deficit of 3.0%. According to the latest official figures, the capital’s population is growing at 1.27% pa, almost double the rate of England as a whole. Tourist levels too have shown rises in recent months, and London remains the principal destination and beneficiary.

June performances in the northern parts of the UK were particularly strong compared to recent months.

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