BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker (HSST) recorded a year-on-year growth of 0.7% for October, ending a run of monthly sales falls that began with a -1.7% fall in February.
Sales of lifestyle goods grew by 2.3% in October and homewares saw an increase of 11.6%. Non-store sales recovered to +19.5% after a dropping to just +12.6% in September.
Fashion goods still struggled in the unseasonably warm weather. Like-for-like fashion sales were negative in three out of five weeks in October, see-sawing between a low of -5.2% to a high of +2%. While the overall monthly return for fashion retailers was a fall of -0.9%, it was still the best month since January.
The return to growth will be a huge boost to stores as they head into the crucial Christmas period. With ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ just around the corner, many stores would have been preparing to sacrifice margins in pursuit of sales volume. But with consumer confidence boosted by low unemployment and encouraging figures from the post-referendum economy, consumers have been spending with a freedom not seen since the January sales.
Sophie Michael, Head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO LLP, said: “Shoppers have reminded everyone of their resilience and this result provides a promising start to a crucial trading quarter. Prices will inevitably rise next year in the context of the falling pound, but right now people are remarkably upbeat about their finances.
“Retailers have a perfect window of opportunity to push full price lines for the next few weeks and claw back their margins prior to Black Friday. A strong product and service proposition will be critical for wooing shoppers while there is an appetite to spend.”
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Alex Black and Rebecca Williams (Launch PR)
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