Fears of a tough year ahead
Customer traffic in the first week of post-Christmas Sales has plummeted, according to retail research group SPSL.

Despite shopper numbers on Boxing Day up by 17 per cent on last year, figures for the week to January 1 fell by almost 8 per cent.

Retailers are concerned that the decrease in numbers could spell a tough trading year ahead.

SPSL director of knowledge management Tim Denison asked: 'Is it just a blip brought about by inclement weather delaying shopping trips or is it a sign that consumers are hitting their shopping saturation levels, believing the best bargains are gone?'

Data from retail analyst FootFall reported that Sales fever had been hard to sustain as the New Year approached. National figures showed that during the first two days of Sales, December 26 and December 27, customer numbers were up 8 per cent year on year.

However, customer traffic from December 26 until December 30 against December 27, 2004 and December 31, 2004 was down by 12.4 per cent.

FootFall marketing manager Natasha Burton said shoppers took advantage of the holiday days, and early bargains were snapped up.

However, she added: 'Numbers fell as the week progressed, people returned to work and had had their fill of bargain hunting for the week. With the majority of Christmas trading figures yet to be released, we will have to wait to see if the early sales boost helped retailers' fortunes on the high street.'