Footfall on New Year’s Day rose 9% year-on-year, according to the Preliminary Experian FootFall UK National Index.

Experian FootFall quantitative analyst Anita Sharma Manan said the figure represented an “excellent start” to the New Year given the return of VAT to 17.5% on January 1 and severe weather warnings.  

She said: “It appears so far the VAT increase has had very little if any impact on consumers’ enthusiasm to shop.  Although the year has started off with a positive outlook, this kickstart to the year may have been down to the further ‘New Year’s Day’ promotions, discounts offered in store by retailers or may simply highlight a delay in increasing the VAT rate. 

“Retailers’ strategies have certainly attracted shoppers into stores, succeeding in ensuring consumers were not discouraged by any VAT increase.  But any uplift in footfall may not deflect the fact that retailers’ margins may suffer because of the sales and discounts offered.”