The final Retail Traffic Index data for October, collated from over 1,000 stores by analyst Solution Products Systems, indicate that the slower first half of the month was no more than a blip in consumer confidence – except for travel retailers.

Excluding the travel sector, where store traffic slid 4.75%, in the wake of the September 11 atrocities, traffic levels elsewhere on the high street were just marginally down on October last year (-0.75%).

The last two weeks of the month saw year-on-year comparisons back in the black, with the schools half-term week particularly busy (traffic +14% on the week before). SPS predicts that all bodes well for a healthy run-up to Christmas – with fears of terrorism at home the only potential fly in the ointment.

The unseasonably mild temperatures enjoyed by the nation last month had little overall effect on store traffic, although there were losers as well as winners. While the balmy weather encouraged people outdoors, they were less tempted into fashion outlets which had just launched their winter collections.

“Travel is the only sector of retailing that has seen any significant long term impact as a result of the events of September 11,” says Dr Tim Denison, director of knowledge management at SPS. “It is still stuck at the departure gate waiting for permission to take off. People seem unprepared at the moment to browse the agencies as they would normally do at this time of year, despite the exceptional deals that are being offered.”

News source: Solution Products Systems