By Daniel Hunter

The latest UK footfall figures released by Ipsos Retail Performance in the run-in to Christmas make positive reading. For the week commencing 4th December the number of people out shopping was 10.8% higher than the previous week and up 0.9% on the equivalent week of 2011, according to Ipsos’ Retail Traffic Index (RTI).

“Christmas shopping stepped up a couple of gears last week,” comments Dr Tim Denison, Director of Retail Intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance.

“Three weeks out, the average rate of growth is 6% week-on-week, so a double digit rise is considerably stronger than in recent years.

“The early surge suggests that shoppers don’t want to be caught on the back
foot this year, either by weather conditions preventing them getting to the
stores or by stock-outs of popular lines. The seasonal launch of new
electronic products, such as the Wii U console, will also have been a
contributing factor.”

Footfall levels for the week were strongest in the Midlands, where the
number of stores entered by shoppers was up by 12.8% week-on-week and 4.8% year-on-year.

The strong result for the week helps close the gap on last year’s numbers
for the month to date. The 6.7% deficit for w/c 25th November has now
narrowed to -2.9% over the fortnight, 0.9% ahead of Ipsos’ projection at
this stage for the month.

“If shoppers carry on in this fashion, December may be better than we had
expected. Many retailers have decided to discount early this year and
shoppers have responded. This is a different pattern of behaviour to recent
years and it will be fascinating to see if the footfall growth is sustained
over the next fortnight,” concludes Denison.

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