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LONDON-Visitor numbers to shopping centres and retail outlets throughout the UK have fluctuated dramatically since the US terrorist attacks on the 11 September, according to the FootFall Index, but consumer confidence appears to be returning.

The events of the last two months have directly affected people’s shopping habits and the FootFall Index, which includes over 50 shopping centres and retail outlets in the UK and covers over 3,500 retailers, has tracked these changes.

UK prime minister Tony Blair made a speech two weeks after 11 September to encourage people to go shopping as a result of the significant drops recorded in the aftermath of the terrorist strikes. This did not help visitor numbers, however, and the following week, footfall dropped by 2.9%.

The week commencing 8 October marked the start of the bombing campaign and, as a result, the retail industry suffered with a drop of 0.4%, making the week 3.8% down on the same week in 2000.

The school half term week beginning 22 October was 5% down on 2000, despite the findings of the English Tourism Council Survey report, which stated that almost 1 million people had cancelled their travel arrangements to stay in the UK. However, the week after half term only dropped by 2.8% compared to last year’s 11% indicating that the retail industry is on the road to recovery and that consumer confidence may be returning.

FootFall managing director John Gallagher said:’The 5% drop during the half term week did not bode well for the retail industry, which seemed to be facing a considerable lack of consumer confidence. Nevertheless, the figures for last week show a promising recovery and a huge increase in shopper numbers in the last three days of October has lead to the month as a whole sitting 6.1% up on September and faring marginally better than October last year.’

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