Retailers hit by slow start to December

Shoppers: retailers are hit by slow start to Christmas
Shoppers: retailers are hit by slow start to Christmas

The number of people hitting the high street and shopping centres in the first full week of December are down on last year, with the BRC describing the crucial festive sales period as "on a knife edge".

Research from BRC-Springboard Retail Footfall Monitor shows the week commencing 5 December saw a decline in the number of shoppers on the high street by 2.6% compared to last year.

Despite the launch of Stratford City, the biggest shopping centre in Europe, people going to shopping centres and out-of-town shops also fell by 1.9% and 0.2% respectively.

However, it wasn't all doom and gloom for retailers.

The week commencing 28 November was a good week for retailers all round with people shopping on the high street and out-of-town growing by 15.6% and 15.9% respectively compared to the same week last year. Shopping centres also performed well rising by 8.9% year on year.

This was due to a combination of the effects of public sector strikes and the end of the month payday in the last week of November, compared to the heavy snow which slighted the same period the previous year.

While the number of people shopping is expected to rise this month, with Christmas Day falling on Sunday and many expected to do last minute shopping on Saturday, forecast for high street sales remains uncertain.

Stephen Robertson, director general at British Retail Consortium, said: "This drop shows festive sales are still on a knife edge. With only one full week of trading to go before the holidays the final result is very much hanging in the balance."

Diane Wehrle, Research Director at Springboard, said: "These figures are an early indication that high streets are experiencing more challenging trading conditions than their shopping centre and out of town counterparts.

"What will be interesting to see is whether there is a revival in footfall to the high streets in the last two weeks before Christmas as consumers look for last-minute deals from retailers."

Follow Sara Kimberley on Twitter @SaraKimberley

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