April not the cruellest month

News release

Bruno Rost
Press Relations Manager, Business Strategies
+44 (0)115 96 85009 Tel
bruno.rost@uk.experian.com Email

April not the cruellest month

Reversal of retail fortunes as shopper numbers increase for the first time in nine months.

Experian RFI year-on-year change (April 2007 ? April 2008): +0.1%

Experian RFI month-on-month change (March 2008 ? April 2008):  +0.9% 

Nottingham, UK, 30 April 2008 - April saw a very welcome, if unexpected, year-on-year rise in shopper numbers - the first year-on-year rise for nine months ? according to the latest Experian Retail FootFall Index. This reversal in retail fortunes is furthermore evident in the month-on-month increase of 0.9 per cent between March and April, suggesting that shoppers are returning to the high street despite the credit crunch and slowdown in the economy. 

Looking at the analysis by region, the growth in shopper numbers has been driven by strong performances in London and South East. With the exception of the North West, South East and London, the rest of the UK has experienced a decline in shopper numbers (see regional table below).

Jonathan de Mello, Director of Retail Consultancy at Experian, said: ?These are good results but we should remain cautious and not get too far ahead of ourselves. History leads us to expect a month-on-month drop in footfall between April and May with May bank holidays providing critical weekends for retailers. Given the tightening of consumers? belts, we expect May to be a tougher month all round. Streamlining store estates will be at the forefront of retailers? minds and greater efforts will be made to ensure any shopping visits are successfully converted into sales.

?When looking at this increase, the timing of Easter this year needs to be taken into account, as does last year?s mini heat-wave in April when shoppers favoured outdoor or leisure activities over shopping. This aside, the retail sector will take some comfort in the overall upturn in visitor numbers to the UK?s high streets, shopping centres and out-of-town retail parks.


?It is hoped that after April?s snow fall, some welcome May sunshine will inspire shoppers to purchase new summer clothing ranges; as well as outdoor leisure items such as barbecues, DIY and gardening accessories. With April showing some signs of shopper confidence stabilising, the retail winners will be those who do most to convince the shopper to purchase.?

Commenting on Experian?s Retail Footfall Index, Ernst & Young retail analyst Jonathan Foster said: ?Despite slightly higher shopper numbers than expected in April, the outlook remains gloomy for the retail sector. We?re not only seeing a record number of profit warnings (22 so far this year from the FTSE General Retailers Index), but an alarming number of retail companies are also falling into administration.  Inevitably, there are more warnings and company failures to come.  The intensely competitive environment is also forcing some underperforming retailers to review large parts of their store portfolios, in order to weed out unprofitable outlets. As tough trading conditions persist, this process will continue - in some cases resulting in further store closures from the weaker retailers, particularly in ?discretionary? sectors such as clothing, electricals and furniture.?

Commenting on visits to online retail sites, Robin Goad, Director of Retail research at Hitwise, added: ?Following the early Easter in March when visits to retail websites saw an uplift, visits to online retail websites have subsequently fallen to pre-Easter levels in April, down to just a 9.53 per cent share of all UK online visits for last week (week ending 26th April).

?However one category that has witnessed a noticeable increase is the Apparel & Accessories category, growing 7% since the 2nd week in January. ASOS, the second most visited website in this category, has seen a 26% year-on-year increase in visits, mirroring its recent stellar sales performance in the year to March (sales were up 90 per cent).? See Hitwise tables below.




week on week

year on year




East Midlands






North East



North West






South East



South West and Wales



West Midlands









UK visits to Shopping & Classifieds websites, Jan 08 ? April 08



UK visits to Apparel & Accessories websites, Jan 08 ? April 08



Visits to ASOS.com, April 07 ? April 08






Please note, all information presented in this press release and references to the Experian Retail FootFall Index (RFI) is owned by FootFall, an Experian company.  By issuing this release, FootFall is allowing the use of this statistical information in either printed, spoken or written format. However, the source of this information must be attributed to FootFall Limited, an Experian company, and the use of statistics to the Experian Retail FootFall Index.
The Experian Retail FootFall Index is endorsed by the BCSC, the membership organisation that represents the retail property industry, and, as such, is regarded as representative of UK shopping habits.  The RFI now measures over 150 million shopper visits per month in over 200 retail centres throughout the UK, covering more than 12,000 retail outlets.  Over 80% of the UK's population is contained within the catchment area of the basket of centres from which the RFI is produced.


The word 'Experian' is a registered trademark in the EU and other countries and is owned by Experian Ltd and/or its associated companies.