HEAVY snow and ice is keeping shoppers from the stores, with retail traffic dropping around 21 per cent year-on-year since the latest snowfalls began on 6 January.
Overall shopper numbers in non-food stores in the UK on Sunday, 10 January were down 14 per cent from the equivalent Sunday last year, said research company Synovate.
The regions worst affected by the wintry blast have been southern England and Wales.
Footfall in non-food stores on Sunday was down 26 per cent in southern and south-east England, 24 per cent in south-west England, and 21 per cent in Wales.
But British Retail Consortium (BRC) spokesman Richard Dodd said the snow was only a short-term problem.
“It isn’t going to make or break the retail sector,” he said. “Also the figures show that while people might not be shopping so often, they’re spending more on their visits. In the five or six days before Christmas there was heavy snow but the figures for the month were strong anyway.
“I think that’s what we’ll see in January too. The chances are we’re talking about postponed rather than lost sales.”
Both the BRC and the government have denied reports that customers face possible food shortages and higher prices in the shops.
Meanwhile online retailers say sales have not increased significantly, possibly because consumers fear the weather will affect delivery of their goods.