BDO’s monthly High Street Sales Tracker (HSST) recorded a massive 5.3% drop in year-on-year sales for December – the worst monthly results since December 2008.
The disastrous end to the year hit all corners of the retail sector. Sales of lifestyle goods were down 3.7% year-on-year and fashion stores crowned a miserable third quarter with a like-for-like sales drop of 5.4%. Homewares rallied with 16% growth, but BDO’s HSST index for non-store sales, while positive, grew at the slowest rate since BDO’s records for non-store began in 2010 (+7.5%).
The monthly figures could have been worse but for a rally between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, but even this couldn’t stop the last week of the month dropping 2.6% compared to the same week last year.
The warmest December since records began put a severe dent in sales of winter fashion lines, but a combination of record-breaking rainfall and reduced discounting also deterred shoppers in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Sophie Michael, Head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO, said “Many retailers had held out for a last minute sales Christmas rush that never arrived.”
“People have been much savvier about bargain hunting this year,” she explained.
“After Black Friday, many shoppers seem to have sat tight and waited for the sales to start on 25 December. Early indications are that activity in January strengthened, so retailers will be hoping they can claw back some ground in the traditional January sales period, but it’s clear the overall picture is one of reduced spending.”
Notes to Editors
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