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Carnage On The High Street As Stores Suffer Worst Christmas For Seven Years

08 January 2016

Canny shoppers and freak weather resulted in the worst Christmas trading figures on the high street since 2008, figures out today reveal.

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

Accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP has a clear ambition to be known in the market for exceptional service delivered by empowered people. The Mid-Market Monitor shows that BDO is the market leader for client satisfaction for the fourth year running – outperforming all its major competitors.

BDO’s heartland is the mid-market. The UK mid-market accounts for less than 1% of all firms but delivers a third of UK revenue and one in four jobs. In the last five years, medium-sized businesses have grown turnover by 55% and profits by 110%. BDO’s New Economy research ( calls for the government to put the UK mid-market at the heart of its plans to rebalance the economy and help this already successful sector expand further.  


BDO LLP operates in 18 offices across the UK, employing 3,500 people offering tax, audit and assurance, and a range of advisory services. BDO LLP is the UK member firm of the BDO International network with revenues approaching £400m.

BDO International

The BDO International network provides business advisory services in 154 countries, with 64,500 people working out of 1,400 offices worldwide. It has revenues of $7.3bn.