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Shoppers Tiptoe into Spring in March, but poor weather over the start of Easter did retailers no favours says Synovate


For the fifth consecutive month, March recorded lower retail footfall in the UK compared to the same month of the previous year, according to Synovate Retail Performance. The Retail Traffic Index (RTI), the national measure of the shopper numbers entering non-food outlets, dropped 1.9% in March against the same month in 2009, slightly more than in February (-1.3%). Month-on-month the RTI rose by 3.6% against February’s figures.

Synovate Director of Retail Intelligence, Tim Denison, comments: “A year-on-year fall in footfall is never welcome news to retailers, but the March figures indicate that shoppers are showing some signs of emerging from their deep recessionary hibernation. Granted, it is more of a tiptoe than a confident march forward, but some heart can be taken from the uplift on February, above the seasonal average. We need to be mindful of the timing of Easter though, which always makes it difficult to draw strong conclusions about any underlying trend at this time of the year.”

The last week of the month (w/c 28th March) which marked the first of the Easter holiday fortnight, registered a 1.7% rise in the number of shoppers entering non-food stores in the UK against the same calendar week in 2009. However, against the first week of Easter 2009 (w/c 5th April), a week later than this year, the footfall comparison is far less flattering. Shopper numbers were 8.5% lower than last year.

“Poor weather across the country did retailers no favours over the first week of the Easter period,” continues Denison, "but we should await the outcome of the second week before making any assessment about the level of shopping activity over Easter as a whole.

Shoppers are caught in aspic at the moment. They are unwilling to break out of their subdued behaviour until they know the outcome and policy consequences of the General Election. People are generally aware that tough decisions and actions are ahead for the country, but they don’t yet know whether this will impact them this year or next, or how it will affect their individual situations. In the meantime, retailers are tasked with doing what they can to nurture household spending, but there’s only so much that can be done with little inherent appetite"

Enquiries for interviews with Dr. Tim Denison should be directed to Ms Aoife McArdle on +44 (0)20 3059 5279.

About Synovate Retail Performance

Synovate Retail Performance provides footfall monitoring solutions, shopper tracking systems and in-store behavioural research to retailers worldwide. Its core products – Shopper Count, Shopper Interact and Shopper Engage – scientifically measure all aspects of a shopper experience from store entry to exit. Originally founded as Solution Products Systems Ltd (SPSL) in the UK in 1998, it was acquired by Synovate in December 2007 and now offers unrivalled global reach and scalability through Synovate’s network of in-country teams and three specialist hubs based in Europe, North America and the Far East.

It supplies national and international retailers with essential business metrics to drive accountability and performance improvement. Synovate Retail Performance harnesses powerful retail and shopper intelligence and creates real deployable insight, to deliver its mantra of “Measure, Manage, Improve” to clients.

Synovate Retail Performance is home to the Retail Traffic Index series, which for over 10 years has been the industry’s leading tracker of national, regional and sector retail footfall trends. It is also co-founder of the KPMG / Synovate Retail Think Tank, offering thought leadership on the state of retail health and the future of retailing. Synovate Retail Performance is part of Synovate Customer Experience, Synovate’s global business practice specialising in the profitable management of the total sum of all customer interactions.

About Synovate

Synovate, the market research arm of Aegis Group plc, generates consumer insights that drive competitive marketing solutions. The network provides clients with cohesive global support and a comprehensive suite of research solutions. Synovate employs over 6,000 employees across 62 countries.

For more information on Synovate visit


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