News release

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

Shoppers stay away in May as reality bites

Credit crunch eats into consumer spending as retailers feel the pinch


Experian RFI year-on-year change (May 2007 – May 2008): -1.5%

Experian RFI month-on-month change (April 2008 – May 2008):  -3.4% 

Nottingham, UK, 29 May 2008 - May saw a 1.5 per cent decline in shoppers visiting the high street, compared to last year, as the effects of the credit crunch and economic slowdown begin to impact on spending. May has always been a slow month compared with April, but this year has been especially difficult with 3.4 per cent fewer shoppers than in the previous month.

“Rising living costs are starting to bite into disposable incomes and, with below-inflation wage settlements revealing themselves in monthly pay packets, people are now experiencing the financial reality of economic slowdown,” comments Matt Sherwood, senior economist at Experian.

“Retail sales surprised by coming in on the high side during the first three months of 2008, expanding by 1.9% during the quarter. This was backed up by first quarter GDP data released last week suggesting that consumers have been undaunted by the credit crunch. But we believe this is a last dance before the party fizzles out and retail sales are expected to soften considerably over the rest of the year.

“We expect a soft second half of 2008 and a slow beginning to 2009 will see retail sales volumes grow by just 1.3% next year, the slowest pace since 1995. It would not take much to see retailers post their worst performance since the early 1990s.”

Online shoppers have also started to become more price conscious, according to the latest data from Hitwise. Over the last 12 months, UK Internet visits to mid-market online retailers have fallen by 6%, while visits to retailers that are more popular with price conscious consumers, such as the clothing store Primark and traditional catalogue retailers, have increased by 12%. However, high-end retailers have yet to feel the pinch. Hitwise’s index of UK Internet visits to 100 high-end retailers, which includes Harrods and Selfridges, increased by 14% over the last 12 months (see tables below).

“Consumers are also becoming more price conscious in their Internet search habits,” according to Robin Goad, Research Director at Hitwise. “UK Internet searches for ‘vouchers’ have quadrupled over the last 12 months. For the four weeks ending May 17th, the top UK search term containing the word ‘vouchers’ was ‘discount vouchers’, while other popular terms include ‘money off vouchers’ and ‘free vouchers’.

“Our search data shows that people are concerned about both the economy and rising prices and looking for cheaper alternatives,” adds Robin Goad. “This is also reflected in the growth of budget retailers and an increasing propensity for consumers to browse multiple retailers to find the right price before making a purchase.”







Experian Retail FootFall Index – May 2008


Year on year comparison







North West                   




South East                   


East Midlands              


North East                    


S.West & Wales           


West Midlands             


Yorkshire & Humber      
















Retail vouchers


Searches for ‘vouchers’ have more than tripled since this time last year




The most popular voucher searches are for discount, free and money off vouchers


Shopping habits


Index of visits to retailers dealing with high, mid and budget ends of the markets. Hitwise created an index based on the market share of UK Internet visits to the retail sector starting in April 2005 for 3 retail categories. Each category included 100 shops that over-indexed with high, mid and low income sections of the population.  It shows that budget and high end retailers have both increased their share since last year, while middle market retailers have decreased. This illustrates what some people have been saying – that the rich are not yet feeling the impact, but that low and middle income groups are – hence the growth in budget retailers at the expense of more traditional middle-of- the-road players.



Change in index April 2007 – 2008

·High-end: +14%

·Mid-market: -6%

·Budget: +12%






We have seen a growth in searches for camping and a decrease in searches for villas.


House prices


Searches for house prices, which were on the increase during boom times, have been decreasing since the middle of last year.




In addition, searches for ‘house price crash’ have doubled since the start of the year.






For more information, visit the Group’s website on


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