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Sales decline on High Street as wintry weather curtails holiday shopping

Sales figures from BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker for the week ending 20 December shows total sales -2.7%

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Sales decline on High Street as wintry weather curtails holiday shopping

Against a very poor 2008 benchmark, overall like-for-likes decreased by 2.7%, with takings down across all three sectors.

Non-fashion: -1.3%
Non fashion dropped by -1.3% as demand fell across the vast majority of stores. Gifting was the worst performing category, with evidence that shoppers were postponing festive purchases until the last minute. The main exception was stores focusing on outdoor gear.
 
Fashion: -1.5%
Sluggish sales were reported in most categories, attributed to lower footfall levels. The vast majority of mainstream stores failed to post positive results.  Sales of womenswear were especially weak.
 
Homewares: -11.8%
Homeware stores saw takings decrease by double-digit levels. Furniture retailers witnessed the steepest decreases, while stores with a greater focus on smaller ticket household purchases saw demand hold-up relatively well.

Non-Store: +39.3%
There was a significant drop in demand compared to last week as sales grew at the slowest rate since early November, with consumers possibly nervous of fulfilment not being met before Christmas.

Don Williams, Head of Retail at BDO LLP commented: “The recent run of positive results came to a halt this week as adverse winter weather negatively impacted sales.  This fall was especially marked in London and the South East, where shoppers who did venture out mainly focused on the larger department stores rather than smaller mid-market chains.

There was also further evidence that shoppers are delaying purchases as long as possible with the expectation of substantial last minute discounts. However, there are signs that if the weather does improve, trade will accelerate during the remaining days before Christmas.” he concluded.

Sales this week last year
Trading conditions were extremely poor this week last year with hardly any retailers managing to report positive gains. Fashion (-14.3%) and non-fashion (-14.2%) stores in particular witnessed a steep drop in demand, with only the homeware sector (-3.1%) showing any signs of recovery based on very heavy discounting.

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