Shoppers hitting the sales this January helped boost retail footfall in every region of the UK apart from London and the South East, according to the latest figures from Ipsos Retail Performance. The global retail and footfall consultant compiles the Retail Traffic Index (RTI), which is derived from the number of individual shoppers entering over 4,000 non-food retail stores across the UK.
Traffic for the month was up +1.9% compared to the same time last year. This almost matched the +2% gain seen in January 2015 and was also the first year-on-year gain since last July. Predictably, footfall was down against December, with weekly traffic dropping by 35.1% after the Christmas rush. Each region around the UK saw growth in the first week thanks to the busy post-Christmas sales period when store traffic for the first week +5.9% higher than the same week last year.
However, stores in South East England and London failed to keep pace and experienced a -2.7% decrease compared to the same period last year. This was the sixth consecutive month where year-on-year store footfall in the capital has fallen and may be associated with the popularity of online and mobile shopping in the region – which is responsible for more than a quarter of the country's online retail traffic.
Dr Tim Denison, director at Ipsos Retail Performance, said: "It is great to see the year start brightly after December's disappointing footfall figures. January's footfall is largely shaped by the length of time that the post-Christmas sales remain efficacious. This year, the 6.4% uplift in the final week of 2015 was almost matched in the first week of the New Year when year-on-year growth reached 5.9%.
"Returns and exchanges made before the expiry of gift receipt deadlines definitely boosted footfall that week but the ongoing sales also continued to draw shoppers into the stores. The remainder of the month was noticeably quieter, but the general economic conditions that underlie shopping behaviour remain strong so we are expecting year-on-year growth in footfall to continue into February. Strong footfall early in the year and the concomitant sales it brings will be welcomed by retailers, given the additional cost burden created by the living wage legislation in April."
Footfall change: January 2016 vs January 2015
Scotland & Northern Ireland +4.5%
North of England +1.8%
The Midlands +3.8%
South West England & Wales +7.1%
South East England & London -2.7%
Footfall change: January 2016 vs December 2015
Scotland & Northern Ireland -34.7%
North of England -39.9%
The Midlands -31.7%
South West England & Wales -35.8%
South East England & London -33.3%