By Daniel Hunter

July’s Retail Traffic Index (RTI) from Ipsos Retail Performance recorded a 6.4% increase over June in the number of shoppers entering non-food stores across the UK.

Compared against footfall levels in July last year, the number of shoppers last month were 4.4% fewer, a significantly reduced gap on June, when the year-on-year comparison stood at 5.4%.

“There were more shopping trips made in July than any other month this year so far,” comments Dr Tim Denison, Director at Ipsos Retail Performance. “The gap continues to close on last year, as more people felt comfortable exploring what was in the shops.

"The latest RTI results are further evidence that shoppers are gradually finding their feet again as the year wears on. The improvement is neither quick nor strong, but it is steady and becoming more constant. We can’t declare that retail is belting along the road to recovery yet, but we can at least see that traffic lights have turned from red to amber.”

Footfall levels climbed throughout the month, culminating in the week commencing 21st July being the busiest week of the summer to date across the UK as a whole and second only in 2013 to the first week of the year.

“British sporting successes, notably at Wimbledon, on the Tour de France, the Lions tour and in the Ashes series, combined with the arrival of a Royal prince and the welcome return of a traditional summer, have helped raise the spirits of the British public and revive their shopping mojo. Above all else though, it is the return of some stability in people’s wellbeing which is making the difference,” claims Denison.

Confirmation that GDP had grown by 0.6% in Quarter 2, double the growth in Quarter 1 provided evidence that the economy is beginning to revive and register in people’s sense of general confidence. Ipsos MORI’s Economic Optimism Index recorded its first positive net balance in three years (+5%) in the month. 35% of those surveyed thought that the general economic condition of the country will improve over the next 12 months, compared to 30% each for those that thought it would either stay the same or get worse (a further 5% were undecided).

Early indications suggest the uplift in footfall and confidence also translated into July’s retail sales. In the latest CBI survey of 60 retailers, 43% said that their year-on-year sales volumes increased in the month, compared to 26% that reported falls, yielding a balance of +17% - the highest result since January.

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