Fashion retailers on the high street endured their worst month since 2009, with sales slumping 3.5 per cent year-on-year in July.
According to the BDO High Street Sales Tracker, UK retailers started the month feeling confident after a strong June, with many expecting to clear their summer stock in July.
However, shoppers endeavored to prioritise essential spending due to general consumer sentiment around rising inflation and falling real wages.
The slump in fashion sales dragged overall sales for July into the negative, down by 0.6 per cent.
Homeware retail was a standout sector, with sales up 5.8 per cent, while overseas visitors boosted the lifestyle sector with a sales increase of 4.5 per cent year-on-year.
“While June’s sunshine demonstrated that the sun can whet consumer appetite for shopping, poor weather at the end of July combined with consumers starting to feel the pinch took its toll on fashion last month,” BDO head of retail Sophie Michael said.
“It is apparent that shoppers are diverting their attention to essentials and tightening their belts.
“The concern here is that sales have diminished in a typical month for discounting, when retailers traditionally look to clear stock to make room for new ranges.
“The results imply that the road ahead may be even more challenging than expected.”