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Britain's Christmas shopping hurt by rail strikes and snow

Published 12/16/2022, 11:40 AM
Updated 12/16/2022, 11:46 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People carry shopping bags as they walk past Christmas themed shop displays on Regent Street in London, December 4, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
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LONDON (Reuters) - British retailers have been hurt by a sharp dip in shopper numbers this week, a crucial Christmas trading period, as snowy weather and a national rail strike deterred people from venturing out, researcher Springboard said on Friday.

It said shopper numbers, or footfall, in UK retail destinations from Monday to 1100 GMT on Friday was down 7.5% from the week before.

Springboard said traffic was particularly weak on high streets - down 14% on last week.

"The impact on high streets will have emanated from a mix of employees choosing to work at home due to the rail strike, and the cancellation of shopping and leisure trips. The cold weather is also likely to have played a part," it said.

On a year-on-year basis total footfall is down 3.8% so far this week, it added.

With UK inflation running at 10.7% and consumer confidence close to record lows, retailers were already fearing a muted Christmas trading period, with a raft of surveys showing most consumers plan to do less holiday shopping this year.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People carry shopping bags as they walk past Christmas themed shop displays on Regent Street in London, December 4, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

Several British retailers, including Marks & Spencer (OTC:MAKSY) and Primark, have cautioned on the outlook in recent months, highlighting the stress felt by many households as the cost-of-living crisis eats into their finances.

Official data published on Friday showed retail sales slid unexpectedly in November, despite the men's soccer World Cup and Black Friday sales promotions.

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