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Synovate predicts brave new world of retail as numbers ’fall off a cliff’ at start of 2009


UNITED KINGDOM — The first Retail Traffic Index (RTI) figures released by Synovate Retail Performance for 2009 confirm a very slow start to the year for retailing in the UK. The number of shopping trips made to non-food stores in January was down by 3.7% against the same month a year ago and by 27.9% on December.

The first full week of the year (w/c 4th January) saw retail footfall levels ’fall off a cliff’ from the plateau that had been sustained over the last three busy weeks of December. Shopper numbers for the week were 25% lower than the final week of 2008. Over the remaining three weeks of January, numbers stabilised somewhat but still slid by a further 10% on average against the first week. Footfall for the month dropped to the levels more typical of February.

Synovate retail psychologist Dr Tim Denison said, "We are entering a brave new retail world. The boost to retail footfall created by the winter Sales was shorter-lived than ever this year. Since post-Christmas Sales launches replaced January ones in recent years, we have come to expect their impact to last well into the first fortnight of the New Year. This time around, Sale shoppers hit the stores earlier and en masse to compete for the best bargains after retailers had largely held their pricing nerve in the weeks before Christmas. That late December frenzy left little in reserve for January. Concerned about what 2009 will bring for them, consumers are being understandably cautious about spending. For the first time since mid-2007 we are seeing credit card loans begin to fall, but this may be more about supply than demand shortages.

Denison concluded, “It is very difficult at the moment to be upbeat about the health and prosperity of the retail sector. These latest Synovate figures confirm that consumer demand is currently fickle and unpredictable. Retailers will need to stay very close to their shoppers’ behaviour and hyper-sensitive to their needs to win their custom over the coming months.”

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.

For more information on Synovate Retail Performance click here:

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.

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