Sharp drop in shopper numbers in September


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The Independent Online

High street retailers are starting to worry in the lead up to the all-important Christmas period after the number of customers going shopping in September fell by unprecedented levels, according to the British Retail Consortium.

Unusually warm weather hit clothes sales last month as shoppers put off buying autumn fashion, sending footfall to the high street down 5 per cent compared with a year earlier.

Shopping centre visitors also dropped 2.9 per cent compared with a year ago, the 12th sucessive monthly fall, while out-of-town centre footfall fell 1.3 per cent after five months of positive growth.

Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said: “Negative numbers across the UK are clearly a concern this close to Christmas, but there are a few factors at play. We’re comparing against a very strong September in 2012, when the post-Olympic period coupled with a cold snap unleashed pent-up demand for shopping trips to stock up on warmer clothing and back-to-school items.”

Meanwhile, Asda chief executive Andy Clarke has added his voice to the concerns that while the economy may be recovering, customers still have less money in their pockets. He said: “We can only celebrate the full benefits of an economic recovery if it is a fair recovery for all and the continued shortfall for millions of households is a worrying and unacceptable reality.”

Mr Clarke’s comments come as the Asda Income Tracker revealed the average UK household had £157 a week of discretionary income in September, down £2 a week from the same month in 2012 due to wages rising just 0.8 per cent on the year – the lowest increase on record.