March’s fashion sales worst on record

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Last month’s Siberian snow storm led to the biggest drop in high street retail sales for a decade, with fashion bearing the brunt.

According to new data from BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker, March saw a 10.1 per cent plunge in sales, dropping to the lowest point since 2008 in the height of the financial crisis.

Fashion and homeware were the sectors hardest hit from the drop in footfall, seeing a 12.7 per cent and 13.2 per cent dive in sales respectively, marking the worst month on record for fashion.

Mother’s Day provided some respite for the lifestyle sector but ultimately failed to make a dent in the 4.5 per cent drop in sales, the second worst month on record.

Though even online sales suffered, showing the slowest level of growth since 2015, BDO has predicted some recovery in April with flat growth reported in the lead to Easter Sunday.

“However you look at it, March was a brutal month for stores,” BDO’s head of retail and wholesale Sophie Michael said.

“The weather was severe, and shoppers’ reaction showed how paper-thin consumer confidence is currently.

“People couldn’t get to the shops, but they weren’t spending online to make up the shortfall either.

“Whilst many have cited this to be due to consumers not trusting deliveries to get through, it’s also a clear indicator of the wavering underlying spending power.

“Given this disappointing start to April, it is likely that retailers will continue to face significant pressures in their attempts to making up the shortfall that has been experienced so far this year.”

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