Shoppers could be down 5.2% on Easter 2007, it warns.
Predicted figures from the Retail Traffic Index (RTI) by analysts SPSL indicate that this year's early Easter – the earliest since 1913 – and the expected poor weather, will be disappointing for retailers.
The research, which primarily covers high street stores, says financially stretched consumers will turn their backs on shopping as a couple of key factors conspire against a busy fortnight (between Sunday, March 16 and Saturday, March 29 inclusive).
Firstly, this is the earliest Easter for almost a century and the earlier it falls the smaller the boost to shopper numbers.
Secondly, the weather outlook of predominantly wet weather will be another key depressant, if indeed the forecast is realised.
"Last year under the Easter sun, barbecue sales were twice as high as the previous Easter and plants and garden furniture sales up by more than a quarter. This year they [diy chains and garden centres] will be desperately hoping that the rain stays away because if not, it will be a damp squib for them, not the seasonal boost that they usually receive," SPSL's retail psychologist, Dr Tim Denison said.
"I do not relish being the harbinger of bad news, but our latest forecast does not paint a very healthy picture for Easter retail and those retailers relying on the traditional Easter boost to their takings are likely to be rather disappointed."