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Halloween drives footfall surge in October

Published: 9 November 2015
Halloween and the half-term holidays spelled good news for UK retailers, with the last week of October becoming the busiest shopping week of the year.
Halloween drives footfall surge in October
New figures from Ipsos Retail Performance show that footfall leapt by 18.3% over the seven days, with 3.5% more shoppers out and about than in the previous busiest week, at the end of July.

Average weekly footfall for the month as a whole was up by 4.5% compared to September, although it was 2% lower against the same period in 2014. Despite the busy final week, footfall during the first three weeks of October was sluggish.

Ipsos director of retail intelligence Dr Tim Denison commented: "October is usually a pretty placid month, as consumers start putting aside some spare cash for Christmas rather than spending it freely in the shops. Store footfall levels were definitely flat and muted over the first three weeks of the month, but the final one blew the tumbleweed away."

Shops in the north of England saw the sharpest climb in footfall at 7.8% compared to September. Scotland and Northern Ireland benefited from a 4.4% increase, followed by the south west and Wales, with 4.1%. The south east and London lagged behind other regions but still reported a rise of 2.8%.

As Dr Denison pointed out, the next quarter will prove crucial to retailers. "We're now into the business end of the year - the so-called Golden Quarter - which ultimately defines the success of any retail year," he said.

"The strength of recovery in 2015, as far as store footfall is concerned, is in the balance. Last year we reported that the annual rate of decline in trips to non-food stores had reduced to just 0.7%. As we ease into November, shopper numbers for the year to date are up by 0.7% on 2014.

"Were this to remain the case by the end of December, 2015 would be the first year to register an increase in store footfall since 2004. It would reflect not only the bounce-back in the consumer economy, but mark a new-found harmony between bricks-and-clicks retailing in which channel collusion replaces competition."

Attention has now turned to Black Friday on November 27, which last year took the UK retail sector by storm. Dr Denison added: "Many retailers were caught out on the day by the unprecedented levels of demand by shoppers. They have had a year to put strategies in place and develop their operations to cope better.

"Shoppers, too, have had a year to decide how they will embrace the day. Some will reflect back on a day of bonanza bargains to be repeated again, while others will remember a day of carnage to be avoided at all costs. It will be fascinating to show just how it maps out and how much it shapes the performance of the month."

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