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High street sales dip 0.9% amid cold snap

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The second coldest March on record held back sales on the high street despite a surge in the run up to Mother’s Day, new data released today reveals.

Overall like-for-like (LFL) sales last month fell 0.9 per cent year-on-year as the cold snap affected sales of Spring fashion lines, according to the BDO High Street Sales Tracker, as clothing sales decreased 3.4 per cent.

Mothers’ Day gifting drove non-fashion sales over the period, which rose 7.3 per cent on a year earlier, thanks to a 15.5 per cent boost in the second week of March, while homewares sales jumped 2.2 per cent as kitchenware sales grew.

With forecasters warning that freezing temperatures could continue until the middle of this month, even retailers which have worked to maintain tight cost control are facing the prospect of having to offer further discounts on Summer lines.

Unseasonably cold weather is hitting retailers of all sizes, with department storeJohn Lewis noting last week that the coldest March in 50 years “dramatically” impacting sales and sales patterns in recent weeks.

“People remain cash-strapped so their natural instinct is not to spend unless given a good reason,” said Don Williams, National Head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO LLP.

“A product consumers like, with a strong focus on value, price and service is no longer enough, they also need an occasion like Mothers’ Day, Easter or the school holidays to give them that final nudge.

“Retailers that failed to adjust stock levels and the supply chain accordingly were already on the back foot when the mercury dropped and will now have to work extra hard to catch better prepared rivals.”

Published on Monday 08 April by Editorial Assistant

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