The freezing weather conditions kept many shoppers at home last week, according to the latest footfall figures from Synovate, with London and the South East worst affected.
The latest Retail Traffic Index footfall figures for the final full week before Christmas (w/c 13th December) were far weaker than predicted. The number of people out shopping in UK non-food stores was 7% lower than the same week in 2008 - against a forecast of a rise of 3.7%.
London and the South East saw a steep decline of 11.7%. However, across the UK as a whole, week-on-week shopper numbers were up by 7.6% (on w/c 6th December).
Synovate's Dr Tim Denison explains, "Christmas shoppers were badly caught out by the weather in parts of the country last week. It seems that droves of people were simply put off venturing out in the snow and ice and retailing was one of the main casualties".
Dr Denison continued, "There is simply no hard evidence to suggest that pre-Christmas demand has peaked, nor that people have completed their gift shopping early; quite the contrary in fact. For many of us, we are now in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable situation, whereby our plans to leave shopping to the final weekend might have been seriously foiled by Mother Nature. We now have a daunting task ahead of us, of hoping that access to the shops improves and that we can find what we need in the time remaining. This year perhaps the 'leave it to the last minute' strategy, so rewarding in the past few years, may not pay the usual dividends!"