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Best summer for years on the high street

Growth across board as Autumn ranges hit the shelves

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Best summer for years on the high street

Shoppers’ recession-busting spending spree has made the summer of 2010 the most successful for the last five years. Despite economists’ gloomy warnings of a double-dip recession, Britons have flocked to the high street, boosting monthly like-for-like sales at medium-sized retailers by 3.6% during August.

This is the third month in a row to see growth, giving an average rise of 4.3% for the summer months of June, July and August. The picture is a dramatic turnaround from last summer, when the average growth for the same period plummeted to -1.6%.

Apart from 2007, average growth for June, July and August has been negative since 2006.This August’s figures have been buoyed by growth across all sectors. The combination of colder weather and the release of Autumn ranges pushed fashion sales up by 2.8%, and cookware and accessories helped the homeware sector grow by 4.5%. Non-fashion sales rose even further, with luxury and gifts products helping sales growth top 5.3%. Online sales expanded by a hefty 32.8%.

Don Williams, Head of Retail at BDO LLP says: “Naturally, we remain cautious given the uncertain economic outlook and the expected cuts in public spending. However, current trading on the high street is still relatively strong, with the pessimism from some quarters overdone. It will be interesting to see if the results from Laura Ashley, Carpetright and Argos next week will also reflect this optimism.”

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