Footfall slumps in January as shoppers take to online bargain hunting

Shopper footfall was 6.6% lower in January than a year ago as Black Friday's impact stretched through to the January sales, figures show.

Stores in South East England and London were the worst hit, with footfall figures down by almost 12% compared with the previous January, as shoppers took to online bargain hunting rather than to bricks-and-mortar locations, according to the Ipsos Retail Performance Retail Traffic Index (RTI).

In northern England, where footfall fell 5.3% on the same time last year, and Scotland, heavy snowfall caused footfall to slump in the second half of the month.

It is the ninth consecutive month that footfall has fallen on the year, based on the number of individual shoppers entering more than 4,000 non-food retail stores across the UK.

While fashion brands Primark, Hugo Boss and more recently Joules have posted positive results, Marks and Spencer, Tesco and B&Q have all started the year with announcements of job cuts.

Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos, said: "This month's footfall figures confirm that it has been a slow start to the retail year, though the news is diverse across the regions.

"It's been well documented that market conditions were exceptionally tough last year and understandably the British public are remaining watchful as we start 2018.

"This is building an imperative for retailers to review their business models to operate differently in order to survive."

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