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High street sales fail to grow for fourth month in a row

06 April 2017

No spring in the step of UK retailers despite positive footfall for March.

The UK’s high street is struggling to lift itself out of a lengthy slump but has the potential to turn shoppers into buyers according to figures released today by accountancy and business advisory firm BDO.

According to BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker (HSST), UK retailers have failed to grow sales for the fourth month in a row, with like-for-like sales flat (0%) in March despite warmer weather and Mother’s day seeing footfall up three out of four weeks on March 2016, peaking at +5.2% in week four*. 

The lifestyle sector grew 1.4% year-on-year, with Mother’s Day acting as the main driver for growth. Homewares also benefited, with sales up 1.8% year-on-year, although growth is beginning to slow. 

Year-on-year fashion sales are again disappointing, having dropped -0.8% in March from -2.5% in the same period last year. However, the sector actually performed better than previous months. In February, like-for-like sales declined -3.4% (the poorest result for the sector since September 2016). 

While retailers struggled to convert buoyant footfall into bricks-and-mortar sales, they did fare better online with non-store sales up by +28.1% - the highest monthly result seen since January 2015 (+37.8).

Sophie Michael, Head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO LLP, said: “March 2017 is the fourth month in a row to see no growth on the high street despite a notable rise in footfall. The new season should have triggered high street spending, and retailers will be questioning why they have been unable to convert shoppers into buyers.   

“As inflation is beginning to be felt against a backdrop of economic uncertainties, it is ever more important that  retailers focus on product, quality and range. With a tightening consumer purse, shoppers will become increasingly choosy about how they spend their pound. Retailers have clearly got a challenge ahead of them and will have to go the extra mile to differentiate their products and stores.” 

ENDS

*Footfall figures from Springboard

 

Note 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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