Spending fears hit shopping centres
November 23, 2001
Shopping centres today reported a downturn in visitor numbers amid fears that the events of September 11 may dent consumer confidence in the run-up to Christmas.
November is traditionally a busy month for big stores as people begin their Christmas shopping.
But visitors to centres across Britain in the week beginning November 12 were down nearly three per cent on the same time last year.
The analysis was carried out by monitoring firm Footfall, which analysed visitor numbers at 50 locations.
Footfall marketing manager David Smyth said: "Normally at this time of year we see quite a sharp increase in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
"There has been some increase but it has been very small and the numbers should be much higher than this.
"September 11 has affected people's buying habits. They feel that if the attacks are going to create a recession, they should keep their money rather than spend it.
"In the coming weeks, we will either see dramatic increases or, if visitor numbers continue to stay at the same level, it will be a very disappointing Christmas for shopping centres and retailers that have had an uncertain time since September 11."
Consumer confidence had been low for some time amid fears of an impending recession but the terrorist attacks dented it still further, he said.
The British Retail Consortium said retailers in London had reported a large drop in visitor numbers after September 11. A spokesman said: "Last month was a very difficult one for London because of a significant drop in visitor numbers.
"The people who spend more come from the Middle East and the US and they are obviously not here any more after September 11."
But elsewhere in the country shopping habits had returned to normal and stores were not unduly worried about a Christmas slump, he said.
"There was a slight wobble around September 11 because shopping is the last thing on people's minds after a tragedy like that.
"But it was a temporary slowdown."