Traffic up, but people are shopping around
Customer traffic at UK stores this week increased by 8.5 per cent year on year, attributed to poor weather encouraging people into shops.

The comparative period a year ago saw shoppers desert the high street as a spell of good weather drew them outdoors. The change is only a 1.8 per cent rise on the previous year.

Sheelah Turner, market analyst at traffic specialist Footfall said: 'I hate having to fall back on the British weather, but spring has started late this year. The same two weeks last year were warm and beautiful, which hasn't been the case this year. People were away from the shops last year, and it's coming back to normal.'

However, the trend hasn't feed through to higher sales. 'I think it is a trend we have been seeing over the past few months, where people are just browsing,' she added. 'There is so much competition that people don't just walk into the first store they see, buy something and walk out, they tend to shop around. All the data we are seeing says that is not translating into spending.'

The department store sector saw a particularly strong increase in visitor numbers, 10.6 per cent up on the same period last year and 4.3 per cent up year on year.

This was mainly because stores such as Debenhams lured the punters with special one-off sales, Turner noted. 'That's a clever strategy. This is traditionally a quiet time of year, but they have managed to bring the browsers back in store,' she said.