Fashion’s “worrying downward spiral” pulls down high street sales in May

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BDO high street sales

High street like-for-like sales have been hit by fashion’s continued decline, dropping 1.3 per cent throughout May.

New data from the BDO high street sales tracker revealed that fashion sales dropped a further 3.6 per cent last month, as tighter budgets favour summer activities over the latest trends. The BDO said this represents a “worrying downward spiral for clothing retailers”.

This decline came in against a low comparison, with in-store sales dropping 1.9 per cent last year. This will mark the fourth month this year to report declining sales.

Fashion retailers like Next and Marks & Spencer issued stark warning over the coming storm for the fashion sector, demonstrated in the string of administrations seen for high street retailers this year.

READ MORE: April’s footfall remained “largely positive” despite inflation

Heritage fashion label Jaeger recently collapsed into administration, while Dash and Jacques Vert’s parent company, alongside Store Twenty One teeter on the brink of collapse.

Meanwhile homeware retailers reported healthy growth last month posting a like-for-like rise of 1.2 per cent compared to a stronger figure a year prior. This was overshadowed by lifestyle, which saw a near four per cent rise in sales marking the sixth consecutive year of growth.

High street footfall also dropped in the first three weeks of May, but retail parks saw a consecutive rise every week throughout the month.

“Retailers are facing turbulent times with rising operational costs, higher import prices and economic uncertainty,” BDO head of retail and wholesale Sophie Michael said.

“These factors result in higher inflation and therefore lower discretionary spend. Prolonged blanket discounting is not sustainable but shoppers need incentives to make the purchase.

“So it appears that most retailers have chosen to run targeted, short-term discounting in an attempt to ignite spending and protect further erosion to margins.

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