Internet steals a March on High Street

News release

Bruno Rost
Press Relations Manager, Business Strategies
+44 (0)115 96 85009 Tel Email

Internet steals a March on High Street

Internet sales boosted while High Street visits continue to decline

Experian RFI year-on-year change (March 2007 – March 2008): -2.7%
Experian RFI month-on-month change (February 2008 – March 2008):   -0.9%

Hitwise UK Internet change:

·        (Easter 2007 – Easter 2008)                            +2.2%

·        (w/e 31 March 2007 – w/e 29 March 2008)     +3.0%


Nottingham, UK, 31 March 2008 - The Experian FootFall Index for March 2008 recorded continued decline in shopping visits to UK High Streets and retail centres, with year-on-year comparisons registering eight successive months of falling shopper numbers. Meanwhile, according to Hitwise, Internet sales continued to gain momentum as more people chose to visit online retailers, reflecting a continued shift in consumer purchasing behaviour.

Despite the early Easter, which provided modest uplift, overall visitor numbers to retail centres and shopping centres fell by 2.7 per cent this March compared with March 2007.  Meanwhile, according to Hitwise, UK Internet visits to Shopping and Classifieds websites were up 2.2% compared to Easter 2007, with a variety of retailers reaping the benefits.

Jonathan de Mello, Director of Retail Consultancy at Experian, commented: “The Easter weekend on the High Street proved better than many had forecast, with a 6.8% increase in shoppers compared with Easter weekend last year. However, Easter 2007 was especially poor for retailers, down over 10 per cent on 2006, so the comparison is from a lower base.  Indeed, Easter Saturday was up only 2.8% compared with the previous weekend, a poor return for a key shopping weekend, with the early date and cold weather hitting traditional Easter visits trips to homewares, DIY and gardening stores.

“The size of the monthly decline will be a further disappointment to retailers. The start of spring sales in the major multiples normally begins two to three weeks before Easter and the early date this year did not change this pattern. However, it is clear from the figures that the early arrival of the sales and the Easter weekend did little to bring people into the stores.”


“It is the Internet that seems to be gaining most from the decline in High Street numbers,” added Robin Goad, Research Director at Hitwise. “Despite the economic woes, it was a good Easter weekend for retailers online. UK Internet visits to Shopping and Classifieds websites were up 2.2% compared to Easter 2007, with a variety of retailers reaping the benefits.

“ received its largest ever share of Internet visits for the week ending 22 March and was the number one Shopping & Classifieds: Flowers & Gifts website over Easter (see table below). Visits to the website increased by 137% compared to the Easter week in 2007, and were 25% higher than during Christmas 2007.


“ was another winner, achieving its highest rank within the Shopping & Classifieds: Music category since Christmas. The extended holiday also resulted in peak in traffic to online DIY stores. UK Internet traffic to House and Garden retailers such as B&Q, Screwfix Direct and Homebase has been increasing steadily over the last three years, and the sector is now the sixth most popular retail sub-category online, putting it ahead of the Computers, Music and Video & Games categories.”  

Other Internet gainers included:

·        T-Mobile Shop highest ever level of traffic during the Easter week

·        Dixons – up 14% on last Easter

·        Sainsbury’s – up 91% on last Easter





Top 20 online retailers in the UK, based on market share of UK Internet visits to Shopping and Classified websites

(week ending 29 March 2008)




Experian Retail FootFall Index by region.




Year on year comparison, March 2008 to March 2007







North West                   




South East                   


East Midlands              


North East                    


S.West & Wales           


West Midlands             


Yorkshire & Humber      






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.

About Experian’s Business Strategies division
FootFall is part Experian’s Business Strategies division, one of the UK's leading economic forecasters, and is a world leader in the provision of retail business information to the retail and retail property markets. The Business Strategies division of Experian provides an understanding of consumers, markets and economies in the UK and around the world, past, present and future. Its focus is consumer profiling and market segmentation, retail property analysis, economic forecasting and public policy research, supporting businesses, policy makers and investors in making tactical and strategic decisions. As part of the Experian group, it has access to a wealth of research data and innovative software solutions.

The division’s economic research team is devoted to analysing national, regional and local economies for a range of public and private sector clients. Its statisticians, econometricians, sociologists, geographers, market researchers and economists carry out extensive research into the underlying drivers of social, economic and market change.