Mixed week for retailers in the Christmas run-up
Overall, sales were up 2.6%, relative to the same period last year, with fashion outperforming other sectors.
o Non-fashion: -0.2%. Surprisingly, non-fashion retailers saw takings slide into negative territory for the first time in over two months. Demand for outdoor goods and gifts were both notably weaker, while leisure and luxury were also softer.
o Fashion: +4.8%. The growth in demand for fashion continued, helped by more seasonable weather conditions. Targeted promotions also buoyed sales in some categories, with formalwear registering the strongest gains. However, this upbeat picture was not mirrored across all stores, with a significant number not beating last year’s depressed results.
o Homewares: -2.9%. The positive sales momentum of recent weeks was subdued, with takings falling back into negative territory despite the very weak comparisons with last year. Sales of big ticket purchases such as furniture were soft; in contrast, cookware sales were positive.
o Non-Store: +33.1%. Sales made through non-store channels picked-up noticeably as the national post strike was called off.
Don Williams, Head of Retail at BDO LLP commented: “The first week of November, which traditionally heralds the start of the Christmas build-up, saw mid-market retailers report a fifth consecutive positive week. Overall, like-for-likes increased by 2.6% compared to the same period last year.
However, when you consider the very weak prior-year comparatives, these results are perhaps not as upbeat as expected. A significant proportion of stores reported flat or falling sales with little evidence of a festive uplift. Although we still remain confident that Christmas trade will be stronger than last year, retailers may have to remain patient as shoppers hold back from purchasing until closer to the time and even Christmas Day itself.” he concluded.
Sales this week last year
Conditions deteriorated significantly this week last year with sales falling steeply across all three sectors. The decision to slash interest rates to 3% did very little to encourage demand, with consumers remaining reluctant to buy anything but essential items.
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