1.4% drop in footfall 'a strong outcome' for high street
UK shops have enjoyed a positive start to the year with footfall down by "just" 1.4% on January last year, figures show.
The relatively small fall in January figure follows December's drop in high street footfall of 9.3% on the same period a year earlier, according to the Retail Traffic Index (RTI) published by Ipsos Retail Performance.
Store footfall was 1.2% higher in the first week of the new year compared with the same week last year, which provided the first week of year-on-year footfall growth since October last year.
Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos, said: "The month began briskly for stores in the UK, a combination of shoppers scouring the shelves for final basement bargains and returning or exchanging Christmas gifts.
"Thereafter, high streets calmed down but remained well in touch with last year's footfall. This month's small drop is still a strong outcome and shows that people are not ringing the changes to their everyday lives."
Regionally, Scotland and Northern Ireland saw a significant footfall increase of 6.8% while shops in London and the South East enjoyed a 1.7% increase.
However, last year's average weekly footfall ended up falling 3.8% on the previous year, with the decline forecast to grow to minus 4.5% this year.
Dr Denison said: "We are all aware of economic storms beginning to form both in the UK and across the world. As well as an uncertain future, inflation is now up to 1.6% and heavily eroding into wage rises. It is all too easy, though, to forget that the main ingredients for consumer spending are still largely intact.
"January's RTI figures serve as a reminder that shopping conditions remain placid. We therefore don't expect to see demand to take a rapid turn for the worse, nor for the rate of store footfall decline to steepen dramatically in the near future."