Further slowdown expected later this year

Shopper numbers fell 6.9 per cent in August compared with last year, according to Footfall.

The wet weather has dampened sales throughout the summer and, even when the sun came out, retailers continued to suffer, as shoppers hit the beaches and parks instead of shops.

Footfall spokesman Martin Davies said: “August 2007 will be remembered for many reasons: the unpredictability of the British weather and its impact on traditional summer and outdoor purchases; the lingering of mark-downs before the autumn stock turn, the effect of interest rate rises and the last-ditch attempts to woo customers over the bank holiday.

“August’s year-on-year footfall decline is evidence of a see-saw effect not typically seen in mid-summer, an effect that cannot be entirely attributed to the weather. In the previous two years, the Retail Footfall Index increased during August.”

Footfall maintained that spending is forecast to slow further over the coming months, as the impact of recent interest rate rises continues to squeeze household budgets. While the Bank of England did not raise rates in August, it maintains that the Monetary Policy Committee is still likely to raise rates to 6 per cent