March high street sales close “disastrous” first quarter

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March high street sales
// Mother’s Day and warm spring weather failed to provide respite from poor high street sales
// High street sales went up 4.8% in March
// However, this rise could not offset last year’s 10.1% plunge during the same month

Mother’s Day and a warm start to spring provided little respite from poor high street sales last month, with figures showing it closed off a “disastrous” first quarter.

According to the latest BDO High Street Sales Tracker, consumer spending on the high street increased by 4.8 per cent.

However, BDO said this failed to offset the 10.1 per cent plunge recorded in March last year due to poor trading conditions caused by the Beast from the East snow storm, which subsquently resulted in the worst month for the high street since November 2008.

BDO added that the latest sales figures closed off a “disastrous” first quarter for the high street.

It found that lifestyle sales suffered a 2.7 per cent fall year-on-year compared to a 4.5 per cent drop last March, making it the 14th consecutive month of negative in-store results despite Mother’s Day.

While fashion sales were up 8.2 per cent year-on-year, it could not offset a 12.7 per cent drop last March,

In addition, BDO said homeware saw a nine per cent uptick in sales but this could not make up for last year’s 13.2 per cent drop.

“With increased footfall, falling unemployment and rising wages, the stars should have aligned for high street retailers in March,” BDO head of retail Sophie Michael said.

“Yet sales remained extremely poor and any positive movement failed to make a dent in the huge negative result we had last year caused by the Beast from the East.

“There has been noise of increases in total consumer spending, but these results only demonstrate that the spending is largely driven as a result of price inflation of weekly essentials with the discretionary purse remaining bare.

“Retailers continue to trade on paper-thin margins and the impact of further increases in business rates and staffing costs from this April will only add to the fears of further possible high street casualties.”

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