July heatwave keeps high street sales flat

BDO High Street Sales Tracker: July heatwave keeps high street sales flat
BDO's Sophie Michael said 2019 was shaping up to be "a year to forget" for the British high street.
// In-store sales growth remain flat in July at 0.1 per cent, according to BDO
// However, the heatwave provided a massive boost for online sales

The July heatwave failed to boost sales on the high street but resulted in the strongest online sales growth in 18 months as Brits went on a summer fashion shopping spree.

According to the latest High Street Sales Tracker, published today by business advisory firm BDO, like-for-like in-store sales remained flat at 0.1 per cent in July.

This places increased pressure on high street retailers as they head deeper into the third quarter.

Coming from a decline of 1.1 per cent in July last year, the latest results did not provide the boost retailers had needed after a tough first half and with crucial final quarter of the year not far off.

In-store lifestyle sales saw the worst July on record, with like-for-like sales decreasing three per cent from a poor base of a 2.6 per cent decline last year.

BDO said this indicated continued challenges for the category, which has seen no growth for 18 months.

The in-store fashion sector toasted its first signs of growth in three months with like-for-like sales up 1.2 per cent in July from a base of 1.3 per cent for the same month last year.

Following a disastrous 2018, the homewares category recovered with an increase of 5.8 per cent – but didn’t come close to offsetting last year’s negative base of 11.8 per cent.

The silver lining to the bleak results on the high street was the strong performance of online retail, which saw like-for-like sales up 20.5 per cent from a base of 14.7 per cent last year – the strongest figures the category has seen since December 2017.

BDO attributed this to the week-long July heatwave, where consumers jumped online to freshen their summer wardrobes.

BDO head of retail Sophie Michael said 2019 was shaping up to be “a year to forget” for the British high street.

“Discounting has been relentless this summer; July’s flat sales figures will not only be disappointing for retailers but will also add further pressure to margins that are already being squeezed to the extreme,” she said.

“It is crucial the new Prime Minister delivers on his pledge to implement measures that will help save the high street and provide some much-needed reassurance to retailers and the hundreds of thousands of people they employ.”

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