High streets suffer worst September since 2011

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High streets suffer worst September since 2011
Financial uncertainty facing consumers is reflected in the lack of discretionary spend and the lowest lifestyle sales since 2008.
// UK high streets endure worst September in 8 years, according to the latest  BDO High Street Sales Tracker
// In-store sales dropped 3.1% after an already poor base of 2.7% decline last year
// Overall high street footfall was also down, starting with a 2.5% drop and culminating in a 5.8% decline

New figures have shown that UK high streets suffered its worst September in eight years as spending buckled under the pressure of Brexit uncertainty, falling footfall and store closures.

According to BDO’s latest High Street Sales Tracker, in-store sales dropped 3.1 per cent on a year ago after an already poor base of 2.7 per cent this time last year, making it the poorest September since 2011.

Weaker discretionary spending resulted in the lifestyle category enduring a 5.4 per cent drop, its worst performance since the height of the recession in November 2008.

September also saw the end of a stronger run for fashion as sales fell by two per cent, making it the first negative growth in three months for the category.


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Overall high street footfall was down September, starting with a decline of 2.5 per cent and culminating in a drop of 5.8 per cent as wet weather kept people at home.

Shopping centres fared worse, with footfall dropping eight per cent in the last week of the month.

Online retail was not immune, either.

Consumers’ reluctance to spend led to online retail sales growth being well below the annual average, reaching 12.4 per cent.

“As the Brexit date looms, the financial uncertainty facing consumers is reflected in the lack of discretionary spend and the lowest lifestyle sales since 2008,” BDO head of retail Sophie Michael said.

“This, combined with the collapse of a big household name like Thomas Cook, seems to have unnerved the shopper even further.

“Cash-strapped retailers are in dire straits. It has been a disastrous year for the high street and, as consumers continue to tighten their belts, they are entering the crucial ‘golden’ trading quarter on very unsteady ground.”

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