Shopper numbers dip after Boxing Day boom

Fewer customers out shopping after December 26 rush

The early boom in post-Christmas shop sales was followed by a dramatic fall in customer numbers at the end of last week, new research reveals.

Unlike during previous years, many stores chose to begin the traditional festive season price cutting on Boxing Day. The move paid off as thousands of people packed into shops in the search for bargains.

Shoppers numbers were up by 17% compared to 2004 with many retailers reporting the day as their busiest of the year.

But according to figures released by research group SPSL the year-on-year figure decreased by almost 8% in the week to January 1.

Although the decline could simply mean customers grew tired of shopping following the six-day trading week before Christmas, retailers are likely to worry that they indicate another tough year to come.

Dr Tim Denison, director of knowledge management at SPSL, said: “The immediate imponderable is whether the drop-off in shoppers numbers after the first three days of Sales is a short term blip or the start of a more significant trend.

“Is it just a blip brought about by inclement weather delaying shopping trips or is it a sign that consumers are either hitting their shopping saturation levels, believing the best bargains have gone. Time will tell.”

SPSL’s data was backed up by findings from analysts Footfall which showed the amount of customers entering stores between 26 and 30 December down by 12.4% on the same period in 2004.

“Shoppers really took advantage of the holiday days this year and early bird bargains were the watchword of the week. Numbers fell as the week progressed, people returned to work and had had their fill of bargain hunting for the week,” said Natasha Burton, market managing at Footfall.

“With the majority of Christmas trading figures yet to be released, we will have to wait to see if the early sales boost helped retailer fortunes on the high street.”

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