The latest figures from the SPSL's Retail Traffic Index have shown that retail footfall fell 0.9 per cent in September compared to the previous month, with annual drops proving even more significant.
The Retail Bulletin reports that August showed a surprise 0.1 per cent year-on-year increase in retail footfall, but the High Street has been bought back to earth with this new drop. Even starker was the dip compared to September 2007, with this year's figure 11 per cent lower.
Footfall for Q3 was 0.9 per cent down on the same period in 2007, though the drop was less severe than the 1.1 per cent slump seen in Q2.
However, the figures were seen as surprisingly robust by SPSL's retail psychologist, Dr Tim Denison: Despite so much downbeat news around, the weakness in the economy currently lies more with the corporate sector – in the financial markets, banking and inflationary pressures in particular – than with any over-arching failing of the consumer.
The RTI has held up remarkably well so far this year, showing that shoppers are nevertheless still pounding the pavements. In September, the quest to buy back-to-school essentials helped keep the momentum up.
The fact is that there are still many shoppers out on the High Street, representing potential sales opportunities for everyone, particularly those with the most tempting offers. The challenge for retailers is making them shop with you rather than go elsewhere. This requires better, more intimate, knowledge of customers.”