Retailers suffer as high street sales plummet

Falling high street sales have lead many retailers to resort to drastic measures.

Retailers have been hit hard by plummeting shopper numbers on the high street, causing many businesses to take drastic measures.

According to figures from the Retail FootFall Index (RFI), the shortfall of consumers during the first four days of this week almost doubled compared to last year, with a drop of 0.9% on Monday, 2.2% on Tuesday, 2.6% on Wednesday and a staggering 5.9% yesterday.

Experian, who own the RFI, said the traditional build-up of shoppers over the Christmas period has actually reversed, causing many retailers to forego their usual ‘discrete’ pre-Christmas discounting to slash prices and launch high-profile sales – particularly in the fashion sector, where ‘party season’ fashion needs to be cleared before the New Year.

The company blamed consumers’ changing shopping habits and the surge in online retail for the decline.

Martin Davies, from Experian, said the drop was unprecedented, defying all expectations.

“It is unlikely that UK retailers will be able to recoup the damage already caused, especially if this Saturday is as much of a washout as the last two weekends,” he warned.

“The massive drops in high street footfall that we are seeing this week are more than just the fallout from a year of financial uncertainty. The way consumers shop has irreversibly changed and these latest figures just add fuel to the fire.

“The fight is now on for what remains of consumer spend this year. With so few shoppers left to fight for it is likely that whoever leads with their sales may get the edge,” he added.

© Crimson Business Ltd. 2007

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