Sales of homeware items fell seven per cent year-on-year in May, according to the High Street Sales Tracker from business advisory firm BDO.
The decline in trade for DIY items and other household goods was the largest felt by all retail sectors during May but overall like-for-like (LFL) sales were relatively flat, dropping just 0.1 per cent compared to the same month last year.
BDO said that the figures suggested consumer spending appears to be “holding” despite various cost pressures being faced by retailers and shoppers alike, although it indicated that sales were not as good as April when the royal wedding fuelled a year-on-year increase in trading.
Online sales were strong in May though, rising 24.5 per cent year-on-year off the back of consumer demand for seasonal fashion items from e-tailers like Asos.com, which last week reported highly impressive annual results.
Don Williams, National Head of Retail and Wholesales at BDO, commented: “Consumers started to spend in April but the fact remains that we all have less money than we did a year ago.
“There are still opportunities for retailers, however, the lack of sales growth shows that they can’t rest on their laurels in their bid to woo shoppers.”
Williams also acknowledged that homeware sales had not been good, but drew attention to B&Q’s first quarter sales growth that shows there are some businesses in this squeezed retail sector which are performing well.
“We always anticipated that 2011 was going to be a challenging year,” he added.
“However, when we look back over the year as a whole, it certainly won’t be all doom and gloom - people are still shopping but are far more careful in their decision making than previously.”
The High Street Sales Tracker analyses LFL spending at non-grocery retailers, focusing on retailers with annual sales of between £5 million and £500 million.