The latest statistics from Ipsos Retail Performance show an improvement to average weekly shopper numbers in March.
The Retail Traffic Index, which measures the number of shoppers entering over 4,000 non-food retail stores across the UK, reveals that in March, retail footfall rose by 4.5% on February. This figure is better than the monthly lift of 3.8% in 2013, despite Easter falling into March last year. For this reason the year-on-year figure saw a decline in March, down 3.7% on last year.
“Compared to last year, March 2014 has been low key,” commented Dr Tim Denison, director at Ipsos Retail Performance. “We suffered from heavy snowfall and cold weather last March, but we also benefited from the Easter holidays. It’s difficult to interpret just how good the latest footfall figures are, but it’s fair to say that we had expected year-on-year growth to return in March and that was not the case.”
But, he added: “Consumer confidence is up there with the skylarks, reflective of ‘good news’ stories outnumbering the bad. For householders, there is growing cause for optimism over their financial wellbeing. Inflation is below 2% for the second month on the trot and on a par with wage rises, energy price freezes are being actioned, an income tax threshold rise is pending, and more people are in employment. These are all contributing to a belief that real disposable income levels are now moving in the right direction and that individuals are beginning to feel better off once more.”
“Shoppers will be stepping out over Easter with more certainty and intent than they have done for a while. We forecast that footfall levels to be 4.1% higher over the holiday fortnight than they were last year. If proven, this would be an indicator that demand is strengthening non-food retailing is returning to better health.”
Ipsos Retail Performance provides footfall monitoring solutions, shopper tracking systems and in-store behavioural research to retailers worldwide. It is the home to the Retail Traffic Index series, which has been tracking national, regional and sector retail footfall trends for more than 10 years.