Olympic success drives a return to shops

UK consumers returned to stores during August, the first increase in store visits for four months, according to new research from Experian. The rise is attributed to falling fuel prices and strong sales of sporting equipment, driven by the country’s Olympic success.

The number shoppers rose by 3.9% from July and 0.4% on the same period last year, according to the data published today (September 1). It ends three consecutive months of falls.

The increase in shopping activity occurred in both town centres and out-of-town shopping complexes, which saw a 4.4% jump in footfall compared with the previous month.

Experian director of retail consultancy Jonathan de Mello says: “In the past few months, the level of out-of-town retail activity has been adversely affected by the prohibitive cost of petrol.

“However, since supermarkets began slashing the cost of fuel in the second week of August, we have seen a significant rise in visits to out-of-town (shopping centres).”

Hitwise, which reports traffic to online retailers, says UK traffic to websites in the sports and fitness category reached an all-time high during the Olympic fortnight. Overall traffic to online retailers rose 3.5% during the past 12 months.

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