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Shopper numbers fall seven months in a row
Figures suggest a fundamental shift in shopping behaviour
Experian FootFall Index, February 2008
Year-on-year change (February 2007 - February 2008) -1.5%
Month-on-month change (January 2008 - February 2008) 2.5%
Nottingham, UK, 29 February 2008 - The Experian FootFall Index for February 2008 showed a continued decline in shopping visits, with year-on-year comparisons recording seven successive months of falling numbers. Visitors to retail centres and shopping centres fell by 1.5 per cent this February compared with February 2007. The half term holiday produced a slight rise in visits but the temporary boost does not reverse the overall year-on-year decline and, given the current economic climate, it is probable that many recent visits were confined to browsing.
Martin Davies, Director of Retail Consultancy at Experian, commented: “The current seven month decline in shopper numbers has spanned all the main retail periods including the autumn and spring collections and Christmas in between. February's Experian Footfall Index brings little cheer to retailers and affirms how shopping trends are in the process of a fundamental shift driven by more sophisticated and price conscious consumers and the availability of new, different shopping channels and venues.
“Retailers are seeking to gain a better understanding of the intricacies of Britain's changing shopping behaviours as traditional triggers that encourage visitors to the high street are now far less influential.”
Commenting on the Experian FootFall Index for February, Jonathan Foster, retail analyst at Ernst and Young, said "After a better than expected discount driven January, February's poor figures underline the tough trading conditions for UK retailers. With little change in consumer sentiment in 2008, the sector outlook is gloomy, particularly for big ticket goods such as electricals and furniture – so we expect further profit warnings and casualties are inevitable.”
Andrew Burrell, Chief UK Economist at Experian, added: “Despite the decline in shopper numbers, official figures for January show retail sales volumes were still 4.1 per cent higher than a year before. This is below last year’s average, but still reasonably healthy, suggesting that consumers are choosing different purchasing channels than the high street.
“Recent surveys have been more mixed, with the BRC upbeat, and the CBI and GfK much less so. Consumer confidence slumped to a 13 year low in February in spite of good news on interest rates.
“The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) cut interest rates by a further 25 basis points in February to 5.25 per cent. Despite above-target inflation, we expect a further base rate cut in the first half of this year. There remains upside risk to inflation from oil and food prices, but this is balanced by the more pressing concerns about demand, notably in the retail sector where sales growth is forecast to decline to 2 per cent year-on-year by end-2008.”
Notes to Editors
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.