High street braces for “perfect storm” this Christmas

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High street braces for
Retailers are entering the vital Christmas trading period facing a perfect storm of unfavourable conditions, according to the BDO High Street Sales Tracker
// Total retail sales increased a marginal 0.7% in October, according to the BDO High Street Sales Tracker
// This failed to offset the negative base of -2% recorded in October last year
// The last week of October saw sales plunge 6.45% amid Brexit delays & an election announcement

High street sales took a battering in the last week of October amid political upheaval as retailers face a “perfect storm” in the crucial Christmas trading period, new figures suggest.

According to the latest BDO High Street Sales Tracker, retailers failed to stem the sales plunge despite deep autumn discounting and early seasonal promotions.

Total like-for-like sales for the month increased a marginal 0.7 per cent and failed to offset a negative base of -2 per cent in October last year as consumers became “increasingly sensitive to the political chaos” of Brexit delays and the announcement of a general election, BDO said.


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The final week of October saw sales plummet 6.45 per cent from a base of -0.3 per cent.

Sales of lifestyle products recorded a decrease of 1.9 per cent to mark the 21st consecutive month of no growth for the sector, considered the most indicative of discretionary spending.

Overall footfall fell every week in October compared with the same period in 2018, starting with a decline of 1.8 per cent and ending with its largest fall of 5.3 per cent.

“Consumers were delivered a double blow of yet another Brexit delay combined with news of a General Election during the crucial festive trading period,” BDO head of retail Sophie Michael said.

“While the first three weeks of October may have brought hope to the high street, the final week was awful and came very close to negating the positive gains in the first weeks of October.

“Consumer confidence will have been further deteriorated by news of the collapse of major high street employer and well-loved brand Mothercare – the latest victim of relentless high street transformation.”

Michael added: “Retailers stockpiling for a Brexit date that was ultimately delayed has only further alienated the relationship between retailers and government.

“As retailers continue to trade on paper-thin margins, and their pleas for business rates reform remain ignored, they enter the vital Christmas trading period facing a perfect storm of unfavourable conditions.”

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