News release

Contact:
Bruno Rost
Head of PR, Business Strategies
+44 (0)115 96 85009 Tel
bruno.rost@uk.experian.com Email

Retail gloom persists in June

Out-of-town shopping the biggest casualty
Retailers suffer major rise in bankruptcies

Experian RFI year-on-year change (June 2007 – June 2008): -2.6%

Experian RFI month-on-month change (May 2008 – June 2008):  +1.0%

Nottingham, UK, 1 July 2008 - The Experian National Retail FootFall Index fell by 2.6 per cent in June, the fifth monthly drop this year. Out-of-town retail destinations experienced much larger drops in visitors, down 5.8 per cent compared to a 1.5 per cent fall in town centres.  The figures come in a month that saw heightened concerns over fuel prices as well as the oil tanker strike. The out-of-town downward trend is confirmed when looking at the regional picture, which shows that the largest drops occurred in the Eastern, South West and Wales, Scotland and Yorkshire regions – areas with the largest distances to travel to major shopping locations.

“The reduction in visits to out-of-town centres is having a significant impact on retail sales because these visits have a much better conversion to sales ratio and generate much higher value purchases for retailers,” explains Jonathan de Mello, Experian’s Director of Retail Consultancy. “People generally drive to out-of-town destinations with a specific large purchase in mind and there is far less browsing than is the case in town centres.”

Retail business failures are also on the rise according to Experian’s latest insolvency figures. There were 282 non-food retail business failures in the last three months compared with 226 failures in the same period last year, a rise of almost 25 per cent. The last twelve months saw a total of 454 non-food retail failures, compared with 393 the previous year, a rise of 15.5 per cent. However, the last three months accounted for almost two thirds of the annual total, suggesting a dramatic acceleration in the rate of retail business bankruptcies. (See tables below).

 

RETAIL BUSINESS FAILURES – May 07 to May 08

 

Failures for year to end of May 2008

Failures for year to end of May 2007

Percentage change

Food Retailers

78

64

+21.87%

Non-Food Retailers

454

393

+15.52%

 

 

 

Business failures  March –May 2008

Business failures March – May 2007

Percentage change 2007 – 2008

Food Retailers

39

40

+2.6%

Non-Food Retailers

282

226

+24.8%

 

 

“The steady drop in footfall contradicts ONS retail sales figures, but is in line with other surveys,” adds Matthew Sherwood, Senior Economist at Experian. “Even the Bank of England is now giving more weight to surveys when accessing the health of the UK consumer.

“Consumer confidence is currently at an 18-year low and this is having a significant impact on consumer spending. The squeeze on incomes from rising food and fuel prices continues to intensify, house prices are falling and there are signs that the labour market is beginning to turn. Looking forward to next month, we forecast a slowdown in retail activity as consumers continue to hold back on out-of-town visits or making major purchases as they focus their spending on the upcoming summer holiday season.”

“As visits to out-of-town retail destinations decline, there is evidence that many more people are staying at home to shop online,” comments Robin Goad, Research Director at Hitwise, an Experian company. “UK Internet traffic to retail websites has increased by 6.5 per cent compared with last year. One of the main growth drivers is the number of people searching for bargains online, with searches for ‘sales’ having reached their highest since Christmas. Another factor encouraging people to shop on their computers from home is the high price of petrol. UK Internet searches for ‘petrol prices’ have seen a sharp increase   and are currently 13 times higher than at the same time last year.”

The chart below shows a dramatic increase in online searches for ‘petrol prices’.

 

 

The chart below shows internet visits to petrolprices.com, which receives two thirds of the traffic from people searching for ‘petrol prices’.  Its traffic has increased by 206% over the last year.

 

 

 

 

Experian Retail FootFall Index – June 2008

 

Year-on-year comparison

UK                               

-2.6%

Eastern                        

-7.37%

London                         

-2.29%

North West                   

-1.96%

Scotland                      

-6.14%

South East                   

-2.83%

 

East Midlands              

-1.89%

North East                    

-1.96%

S.West & Wales           

-5.90%

West Midlands             

-1.71%

Yorkshire & Humber      

-4.18%

 

The chart below illustrates the decline in shopper visits to out-of-town compared with town centres since the end of May 2008.

 

 

ENDS…

 

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