High street enjoys best month in 2 years

high street sales tracker

The UK high street recorded its best month in almost two years as the weak pound led to a rise of overseas tourists and British “staycationers”.

According to the latest High Street Sales Tracker from accountancy and advisory firm BDO, overall like-for-like sales were up two per cent last month — making it the best month since September 2015.

BDO’s figures indicated a sharp rise in British staycationers and an influx of overseas tourists as a result of the weak pound helped edge up sales of lifestyle goods by 3.1 per cent year-on-year.

Meanwhile, fashion retail sales saw like-for-like growth of 1.5 per cent — the sector’s best performance since last November as it struggled all year to generate growth.

Homeware sales were also up 1.9 per cent year-on-year.

However, footfall numbers decreased throughout August as patches of bad weather dampened spending.

BDO head of retail Sophie Michael said the figures needed to be put in context.

“This increase is off the back of a 1.5 per cent decline in 2016 and that figure was based on a drop of 4.3 per cent in 2015, so August is still proving to be a challenging month for retailers,” she said.

“Stay-at-home holidaymakers and increasing numbers of tourists have made a positive difference to sales this month, but retailers would have wanted to make up more ground from the negative like-for-likes resulting in August in prior years.

“As school terms begin after the summer break and the start of festive trading nears, retailers will be gearing up for their most critical trading months.

The uncertain environment and fragile consumer sentiment requires all retailers to be ever more strategic with their pricing and promotional activities.”

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