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High street sales fall 1.2% in March


A marked reduction in homewares trading helped push mid-market high street trading down 1.2 per cent on a like-for-like basis in March, according to research published today.

The latest monthly High Street Sales Tracker from accountancy firm BDO, revealed that homewares sales fell 2.7 per cent during last month and non-fashion sales dropped 1.7 per cent year-on-year.

Fashion sales were a little healthier during March, perhaps thanks to the early warm weather, but were still down by 0.8 per cent compared to the same month last year and the early year struggle for retailers has yet to show signs of ending.

Despite this, National Head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO Don Williams argues that the upcoming nuptials between Prince William and Kate Middleton could still deliver a much needed spring bounce.

“April will be a much better month for retailers,” Williams said. “Combine bank holidays, Easter and the royal wedding with some good weather, and the UK consumer’s inclination to shop will be hard to suppress.”

To compile its results, the BDO Sales Tracker compares like-for-like spending at 70 non-grocery retailers with annual sales of between £5 million and £500 million, including around 10,000 stores nationwide.

According to the research online sales have continued to grow at a large rate year-on-year in 2011, with March’s increase of 48.9 per cent almost matching January’s high of 49 per cent.

BDO predicts that retailers which get their multichannel offering right will be best equipped to capitalise on the likely surge in consumer spending next month.

Williams added: “The acceleration of non-store sales proves how valuable this channel is.

“Consumers want convenience, and that increasingly means the ability to conduct transactions through smartphones as well as the internet.”

Published on Monday 11 April by Editorial Assistant

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