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Shoppers hold their station in July says Synovate


UNITED KINGDOM — Synovate’s Retail Traffic Index (RTI), the UK metric capturing through-the-door shopper numbers in the non-food sector, recorded a 2.5% year-on-year decline in July 2010, but an 8.1% increase on June’s footfall. This compares to corresponding figures of -2.1% and +5.4% respectively in June.

Dr Tim Denison, Director of Retail Intelligence puts these figures into context: “A semblance of stability has returned to shopping activity over the last couple of months and we expect it to continue into August. Footfall levels remain lower than last year by a couple of points, but they have recovered from the worrying slide we experienced in April and May. Shoppers are holding their summer station, which in itself, gives us reassurance about July’s sales figures, which we expect to be broadly on a par with those of June.”

Across the nation, there were significant variations between regions, which have also remained fairly constant over the last couple of months. Worst hit is the combined area of Scotland and Northern Ireland, where non-food footfall has been struggling throughout 2010, standing 6.6% lower in July this year against last. Figures for South West England and Wales were also much lower than the national average; 4.0% down on last July’s footfall.

“We are all acutely aware that public sector jobs cuts are on their way”, continues Denison. “Whether this cloud is beginning to impact directly on the regional splits in shopping traits is difficult to say, but towns and cities within these regions such as Belfast, Aberdeen, Dundee, Swansea and Plymouth are currently amongst the places with the highest percentages of public sector jobs in their workforces. Perhaps lower footfall in these areas is a consequence of people there now starting to confront the stark realisation of unemployment. The linkage between attitude and shopping behaviour is still something that is absent at the national level however. Consumer confidence has slipped for its sixth consecutive month, and according to one metric, is at an 11 month low. In contrast, although year-on-year footfall levels have been planted in negative territory for nine months now, the trend is not downwards. The same is also true of retail sales data, as well as the latest GDP figures, which continue to record positive growth in the service sector. It leads me to conclude that though the majority of consumers are more anxious about their quality of life over the next 12 months, this is not being reflected widely across the country in our current shopping behaviour. The triggers for behavioural change have yet to be pulled.”

“Looking ahead” concludes Denison, "there is little to see that will threaten the stasis in August. Overall we will, I’m sure, look back on a satisfactory summer, bearing in mind the uncertainty with which we entered it. The autumn however, will beg yet more questions of retailers and shoppers alike; not least over pricing strategies and high ticket purchasing decisions ahead of the VAT increase in the new year.

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.

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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.

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