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Shopper numbers disappoint during second week of December


UNITED KINGDOM — Figures released today by Synovate Retail Performance show that the number of shopping trips made in the second week of December (Sunday 7th December to Saturday 13th December inclusive) were down even more significantly compared to 2007 than the previous week’s had been. The Retail Traffic Index, which measures the number of non-food shopping trips, stood 8.5% lower for w/c 7th December than the corresponding week last year, but increased by 4.5% on the previous week (w/c 30th November). The latest numbers match Synovate’s forecast for the week, and are on track with its prediction that overall shopper numbers for the month will be down 7.3% against December 2007.

Synovate retail psychologist Dr Tim Denison said, “Last week was destined to be a testing week for retailers, falling between the first flush of Christmas kick-off promotions and the anticipated final-week bargains to come. We are seeing retailers throughout the country doing their best to stimulate business through imaginative promotions, but with such weak underlying demand it is proving difficult. It certainly appears that consumers are settling for more frugal festivities this year, built around value and necessity rather than volume and excess.”

The demise of Woolworth with its final give-away prices may inadvertently have set an unwelcome precedent for the rest of the Christmas period, for which even Tesco has felt obliged to offer its own 50% discount deals last week.

Denison added, “The challenge that retailers now face in the final countdown to Christmas is how to be seen and heard above the noise of rivals’ promotions. For years now, increasingly greater numbers of people have left their shopping for later, with the expectation of last-minute bargains. What is different about the final stages of this difficult year is that retailers cannot afford not to be noticed or for their final week pricing and promotional tactics to be off-pitch. The final push is now on and signs in every store on the high street are screaming for customer share, to the extent that even slashing prices this week won’t guarantee attracting extra shoppers.”

“There are still many uncertainties hanging over this Christmas. Something we do know is that the current week (Sunday 14th December to Saturday 20th December inclusive) will be the busiest this side of Christmas. We forecast that it will be 9.5% busier than last week and retailers will be doing their utmost to boost trade. The question that remains is whether they still have a few extra tricks up their sleeves or have they already played their final hand?”

All enquiries for follow up or interviews with Dr Tim Denison should be directed to Theo Chalmers at Verve PR on 01908 275271 (weekdays) or 07932 004632.

About Synovate Retail Performance

Synovate Retail Performance is Europe’s leading supplier of scientific footfall monitoring and behavioural analysis systems providing retailers with Key Performance Indicators to measure, manage and improve customer volume, sales opportunities, conversion rates, staff stretch, promotional activity and in-store lay-outs. Part of Synovate Customer Experience, Synovate’s global business practice specialising in the profitable management of the total sum of all customer interactions, Synovate Retail Performance monitors more than 1.02 billion visits to over 5,000 retail premises per annum in the UK and operates in 14 European and North American markets.

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 staff across 62 countries.

For more information on Synovate visit


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