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No November reprieve for retail traffic, says Synovate


UNITED KINGDOM — November’s retail footfall figures from Synovate Retail Performance continue to show a widening deficit against last year. The UK Retail Traffic Index, a measure of shoppers visiting non-food stores, recorded a 5.5% drop in the month against November 2009 and a surprise fall of 1.1% on the October figure. The three-month average of -4.0% against the corresponding months of last year represents the steepest decline since August 2006, when the Bank of England raised interest rates to 4.75%.

“We had anticipated that in November we would see the gap in year-on-year footfall start to close, as more shoppers ventured out to make the most of VAT at 17.5%,” explains Dr Tim Denison, Director of Retail Intelligence and Retail Psychologist at Synovate. “This simply did not happen. Heavy internet promotions and the first rise in clothing and footwear inflation since 1992 may have contributed to the nation’s ongoing, sedentary state, but whatever the principal causes fewer shoppers braved the elements and the darker nights. Neither the stimuli of Halloween nor Guy Fawkes night created more trips to the shops this year against last.”

Every week in the run-up to Christmas, Synovate will be publishing its RTI figures, keeping the retail sector abreast of the latest footfall intelligence. The week commencing 21st November saw footfall down by 6.6% against the corresponding week in 2009 across the nation, though it represented a 5.8% increase on the previous week. Denison continues, “Progressively over the years we have seen three trends emerging at Christmas: more people doing their gift and price researching on-line, more people buying their presents on-line and more shoppers leaving their shopping later. What we can’t establish at this stage of the 2010 campaign is whether the week-on-week rise in store traffic of just 5.8% in Week 47, against a three year average of 8.7% is purely the advance of these trends, or whether it reflects an underlying deficit in the number of trips that will be made over the course of the whole Christmas period. Which ever is the case, we believe that this will be a ’slow burn’ Christmas, possibly ending in a ’flash spree’, making life pretty tortuous for retailers.”

Synovate Retail Performance forecasts that retail traffic in December will be 4.2% lower than last year, somewhat better than the 5.5% decline seen in 2009. “There is a real opportunity for retailers to make a difference to their trading performance this Christmas, if, indeed, we do see fewer shoppers in the stores. We can all recall past Christmases where shopping experiences were plagued by long waits at tills, no floor staff in sight, and must-get presents nowhere to be found - all the consequence of over-crowded stores. This year may be different; there may be less reason for customers to feel exasperated. The highest performing stores, those that convert more browsers into buyers will be those that are able to quash the Christmas norms and succeed in making every customer feel welcome and well served.”

Enquiries for interviews with Dr. Tim Denison should be directed to Joanne Taylor, / +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. It supplies national and international retailers with essential business metrics to drive accountability and performance improvement.

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.

About Synovate

Synovate, the market research arm of Aegis Group plc, generates insights to help clients drive competitive brand, product and customer experience strategies. A truly borderless company with offices in over 60 countries, our ’biggest small company’ approach combines best in class global research capabilities with personalised service, local knowledge and the flexibility to create teams and processes that meet clients’ specific requirements. At Synovate, our clients sit at the top of our organisational chart, driving us to continually develop more innovative research solutions that predict actual business outcomes.

For more information on Synovate visit


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