High street hits seven-year low
BDO’s monthly High Street Sales Tracker (HSST) recorded a massive 4.3% drop in year-on-year sales for August – the biggest fall since November 2008 and the sixth monthly dip this year.
All sectors suffered, with sales of fashion down 5.5%, homewares down 3.3% and lifestyle goods down 1.3% year-on-year for August. With retailers reporting falling footfall, problems have been compounded by a sharp decline in online sales too. While non-store sales are up 11.4% year-on-year, the like-for-like growth is the lowest ever recorded by BDO’s HSST index.
Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said the high street was losing out as UK consumers opted to spend their disposable income on leisure pursuits, eating out and holidays. “The strength of the pound has encouraged Brits to spend more abroad rather than in the UK,” she added.
However, there are glimmers of light at the end of a particularly gloomy summer.
“The last week of August was cold and wet enough to make people think about autumn, so fashion retailers saw an uplift in sales in that final week that this summer’s fragmented discounting has so far failed to deliver.
“With the holiday season over and the summer weather starting to fade, retailers will be hoping this is the start of a shopping spree that sees them into the Autumn season and beyond. Retailers likely to benefit in the coming months are those with the right product, at the right price with aligned multi channels.”