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High street sales fall flat in February


Retailers are hoping for a spring bounce to sales after February saw next to no growth across most sectors, a new report has revealed.

Accountancy firm BDO’s monthly High Street Sales Tracker revealed disappointing figures for the second month of 2011, with overall like-for-like (LFL) sales growing just 0.3 per cent year-on-year.

On a LFL basis, fashion sales rose 0.9 per cent, non-fashion dropped 0.7 per cent and homewares fell 0.6 per cent compared to the same month last year.

Don Williams, National Head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO, said: “Consumers’ nervousness about the future meant this was always going to be the toughest month in a tough quarter.

“With fewer trading days, February is a miserable month for retailers at the best of times.”

Online sales continued to completely out-pace the high street in terms of growth, though sales rose just 32.9 per cent in February compared to January’s impressive jump of 49 per cent.

With rents and business rates currently proving so difficult for many high street retailers to manage, vacancy rates have been rising.

High petrol and commodity prices have been squeezing family budgets and keeping spending subdued but with warmer weather on the way BDO is pointing to April as a possible turning point in the year.

“There are chinks of light for retailers,” Williams continued.

“First, although flat, sales are still growing. Secondly, in four weeks it will be April. That means brighter days and three bank holiday weekends in a row for people to hit the shops.

“When we are looking back at 2011, the numbers will not be inspiring, but they will not be awful.”

Published on Monday 07 March by Editorial Assistant

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