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HSST: Scorching September sends fashion sales into meltdown

06 October 2016

Last month’s unexpected heatwave sparked chaos among fashion retailers, prompting the second worse set of sales figures for the whole of 2016, figures released today by BDO show.

High street fashion sales recorded by BDO’s September High Street Sales Tracker (HSST) recorded a year-on-year drop of 5.9% - beaten only by April’s like-for-like fall of 9.2%.

As the country basked in the hottest September in 105 years, fashion retailers were left trying to shift full priced autumn and winter collections.

Every week in September saw negative year-on-year sales for fashion, beginning with a drop of 5.5% in week 36. But as the mercury soared past 34.4C, fashion sales went in the opposite direction, dropping 8.4% in the third week of the month on the same period in 2015, and 8.1% in the last week (week 39).

While fashion retailers wilted, sales of lifestyle goods edged into growth in September (up 0.9% year-on-year) and the homewares sector saw a healthy year-on-year growth of 12.6%.

Neither gain was enough to drag Britain’s high streets into positive territory though, with September’s like-for-like growth across all sectors dropping by 2.8% – the eighth month in a row with no sign of growth.

Sophie Michael, Head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO LLP, said September was always going to be tough when compared against a strong September 2015 (up 2.8%), but retailers should take the erratic weather as a lesson in the importance of flexibility.

“When you look at individual performances, it doesn’t take long to spot who has innovated and adapted their supply chains to be able to cope with unseasonal weather,” she said.

“And it’s not just the temperature that is in flux; in order to maintain a strong performance, retailers should ensure that they are attuned to the changing demands of consumers and navigating future challenges presented by Brexit. Those that can remain flexible, and adapt quickly, will not only stand the best chance of success but will also be well placed to grab the opportunities that will no doubt present themselves in these uncertain times.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

Accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP provides integrated advice and solutions to help businesses navigate a changing world.

Our clients are Britain’s economic engine – ambitious, entrepreneurially-spirited and high growth businesses that fuel the economy. 

We share our clients’ ambitions and their entrepreneurial mind-set. We have the right combination of global reach, integrity and expertise to help them succeed. 

BDO LLP

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 has revenues of £405m and is the UK member firm of the BDO International network.

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.  

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