Wretched month on UK High Street

Whilst shopping numbers have to date remained buoyant amidst the current global credit crunch, October stats from the Retail Traffic Index make for sombre reading for retail, with a 3.1 per cent year-on-year drop in shopping trips reported.

The numbers were also 1.3 per cent down on September.

Dr Tim Denison of Synovate Retail Performance, which is publishing the RTI figures for the first time, stated: The figures were slightly worse than our projected year-on-year drop of 2.9%, and signal a wretched month for retailers all across the country.

This is the first month since November 2006 that all regions across the UK have registered a year-on-year decline. Shopper numbers in London and the South East fell by 3.0 per cent against last October, the weakest performance of the year for the region, no doubt affected by the turndown in the service sector.

The accumulation of bad-news stories over the course of the month, from the widening exposure and realisation of the financial market turmoil to growing concerns over job security appears to have had an impact on the High Street in October, rocking confidence and shopping patterns.

This is creating a fascinating battleground. Tesco, for example, is making strenuous efforts to re-badge itself as ‘Britain’s biggest discounter’, whilst the likes of Lidl appears intent on building middle market appeal, offering such products as its ‘luxury for all’ 4.99 frozen lobsters.

Many people have now broken their old comfortable and familiar routines to start trialling the discount supermarkets, but have come to realise that they cannot rely on them entirely for the full weekly shop. Where ‘one stop’ shopping used to serve us well, providing the convenience that we all craved, the downturn has introduced austerity, selectivity and preparedness to invest more time and effort in shopping.”

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