UNITED KINGDOM - The Synovate Retail Traffic Index (RTI), the only UK retail metric that shows actual through-the-doors shopper numbers, recorded an encouraging 0.2% year-on-year rise in non-food retail footfall in July and an 8.4% increase on June.
Synovate retail psychologist Dr Tim Denison has analysed the data, "Coming off the back of a better than expected June, July's marginal year-on-year rise in footfall is another small and welcome step forward for British retailing. The faltering market is now pegged, at least in the short term, and this should be confirmed when the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor figures for July are announced next week.
"It is almost as if the whole of the country, not just parliament, is enjoying a summer recess, away from the economic and political battlefields - and this despite even the incessant rain! The benign conditions have helped patch consumer confidence and stop the shopping rot. The summer Sales have played their part in encouraging shoppers to go out and spend and I would say that they have been more effective in this regard than last year, for two reasons. Firstly, the offers have been more limited and genuine, and secondly, in contrast to last summer, retailers appear far more selective and discerning in their approach. There is far less sense that the whole of the high street is on continuous Sale.
"We shouldn't get ahead of ourselves here, or be under any false illusion; the real action will return again in the autumn, when the spectre of public spending cuts, job insecurity and pay freezes reappears to test our resolve. In the meantime though, we can enjoy something of a respite.
"All regions of the UK enjoyed a significant uplift in the number of non-food shopping trips in July compared to June. Best of all, however, was Wales and the South West, where numbers were swelled by domestic holiday-makers and retail footfall was 12.2% higher than the previous month. With news that the weather isn't expected to be kind in August, and reports of renewed and strengthening demand for last minute holidays abroad, the outlook for the month ahead may not be quite so promising for UK coastal, lake and city-break resorts. We are anticipating the RTI to slip back by 0.9% year-on-year in August, but even that near one point downturn is a far better position to be in, than we were at the start of the year."