UK retail sector tracker Synovate has revealed that retail footfall for ‘Christmas week one' - commencing 29 November - was down 4.1 percent compared to the equivalent period a week ago.
The feeling is that shoppers are increasingly expecting bargains to appear as we get closer to the big day and a game of chicken between retail and consumers is being played out. However, it looks like retail inventories have been tightly managed this year, so shoppers may be disappointed with the lack of deals on offer further into December.
"The trend to progressively later gift-shopping in the run-up to Christmas is well documented now; except that last year the surge could not have been left any later, which suggests these latest figures are a reflection of genuinely subdued shopping build-up," said Dr Tim Denison of Synovate.
"Despite the slow start, our forecast of a 1.8% rise in footfall on last year for the month as a whole is still on track and a solid Christmas is still on the cards. We believe that it is a matter of delay tactics rather than an indicator of decline in demand per se. The first week has been a little slower than retailers would have liked, but the 7.5% rise on the previous week is not insignificant and shows that Christmas is on its way."
Things seem to have got off to a quicker start in the US, however, with the same week showing a three percent increase on a year ago, according to comScore. Here's their table showing the comparative stats for the holiday season so far.