January retail sales saw the worst performance since 2013 as like-for-like sales fell into negative growth.
The BDO High Street Sales Tracker (HSST) revealed that UK high streets couldn’t recover from the 0.1 per cent drop in sales in December, with another 0.1 per cent decline in January.
Historically these two months are key trading periods for retailer, and these results are said to have made retailers “nervous” about the coming months.
Fashion performed worst, as the struggling industry posted three consecutive weeks of negative growth and a one per cent year-on-year decline.
Meanwhile, lifestyle goods performed well with a 1.2 per cent rise in January, attributed to overseas spend and the ailing pound.
“Although the weather was a factor in discouraging people from visiting the shops, retailers shouldn’t become distracted by this,” BDO head of retail Sophie Michael said.
“Those with a strong online presence were able to combat falling footfall with strong online sales, particularly in week three, highlighting the need for investment across all channels.
“With a poor start to the year, in what is usually a positive month on the high street, I expect that many retailers will be concerned about the year ahead.
“The overwhelming trend for 2017 is going to be uncertainty; whether it be economic, political or in relation to consumer spending habits.
“But instead of being preoccupied by the external backdrop, retailers ought to ensure they remain agile and focused on product, quality and range to entice customers in store or online and recreate some of that customer loyalty that has been fast disappearing in recent years.”