Optimism follows a quiet Easter footfall

Footfall in non-food stores across high streets, shopping centres and retail parks rose by 1.7% in April over March, but suffered a decline of 8.7% year-on-year, according to figures released by Ipsos in its latest Retail Traffic Index (RTI).

During the Easter fortnight, 9.7% fewer shopping trips were made against the equivalent holiday period last year, making it the quietest Easter on record of the millennium for non-food store retailers, Ipsos claims.

Dr Tim Denison of Ipsos Retail Performance said: “It’s always a difficult picture to assemble at this time of the year, with the Easter period falling into different months,” so we shouldn’t be alarmist about these latest figures.

“We had expected to see more shoppers break out of their hibernation in April, as better weather had been forecast. However, our footfall data reflect that regeneration was very pedestrian and only really got going in the last few days of the month. It’s certainly been a jittery start to the year, with some retailers reporting double-digit sales growth and others double-digit decline.”

But, he added, as warmer weather arrives, shoppers are expected to visit their local stores and be inclined to spend some of the money they have not been able to so far in 2013.

“The other factor that will make all the difference is some stability in the statistics,” he said. “Their stability should create growth, helping to soothe the hearts and minds of consumers. It is the relentless state of instability that has proved to be so damaging, particularly over the last 12 months.

“Many retailers are becoming increasingly buoyant about how they are set for the future. More consistency in the upticks and more ‘positivity’ reported should breathe some extra confidence into the economy – and give belief to consumers that they might be able to afford to shop and spend that little bit more. Let’s hope the reported rise in GDP for quarter one will be the start of that path to stability and put a spring in the step of shoppers.”

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