Sunny spells & Easter fail to boost April high street sales

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high street sales
// High street sales down 0.4% in April, according to BDO
// This compares to 3.8% fall in April 2018
// Warm, sunny spells, Easter long weekend and school holidays failed to boost high street sales

High street sales failed to get a boost from a combination of warm, sunny spells, school holidays and the Easter long weekend, according to new figures.

The latest high street sales tracker from BDO showed April high street sales were down 0.4 per cent year-on-year compared to an already-poor 3.8 per cent fall for the same month last year.

Last month’s figures also marked the third month of in-store sales decline so far this year and 15 months of little-to-no growth for the UK’s embattled high streets.

Lifestyle retail saw in-store sales fall by 0.4 per cent, marking the 15 consecutive month of no growth, despite a slight uptick during the warm Easter long weekend.

The sunny spells also failed to encourage shoppers to update their wardrobes, with fashion sales down 0.8 per cent on the back of last year’s 3.3 per cent decline.

However, homeware sales were up 0.6 per cent in April although it made little indent on last year’s 8.8 per cent fall.

In a continuing sign for shoppers to gravitate online, non-store like-for-like sales last month grew by 18.3 per cent year-on-year.

“Whilst a marginal drop in sales may not on the face of it seem significant, it has to be taken in the context of a low benchmark and, crucially, what should have been perfect shopping conditions last month,” BDO head of retail Sophie Michael said.

“With record warm weather, Easter holidays and more Britons taking staycations, April should have been a bumper month for high-street retailers. Instead, these factors couldn’t prevent further decline.

“Real-wage growth and low unemployment usually prompt hope for retailers, but these are still not filtering through to spending.

“Changing consumer habits and the gradual shift to ‘just buying less’ as ethical and sustainable efforts gather pace could also be playing a part of the consistently poor retail performance.”

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