The later Easter holiday failed to inspire UK consumers into a Spring shopping spree, according to figures released today by accountancy and business advisory firm, BDO.
According to BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker (HSST), UK retailers saw April’s like-for-like trading grow just 1.9%.
But while April represented the first month of growth this year, it came off an extremely weak base. April 2016 recorded a year-on-year fall of -6.1%; the worst month’s performance since February 2009.
Despite the new season, April’s fashion sales managed growth of just 1.2%. Lifestyle retailers fared better, enticing overseas shoppers to take advantage of the weak pound and push like-for-like growth up 5.3% for the sector. Homewares sales dropped by -3.1% for April, but this was in the context of a strong comparative of 17.8% for home goods in April 2016.
While non-store sales grew by +15.1% in April, this was the lowest pace of monthly growth seen since September last year.
The Easter effect produced a small sales fillip – BDO’s figures show total growth for April would have been less at 0.16% with the week leading up to the Easter weekend excluded. Nevertheless, the failure to grow off such a low comparative base has alarmed retail analysts.
Sophie Michael, Head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO LLP, said: “With Easter falling later, retailers would have been expecting a boost in sales in April, so these poor results will be clearly disappointing.”
“Retailers need to hold their nerve; focusing on product and range as well as innovative promotional activity to ignite spending - whilst preserving their profit margins.”
Sophie added “With the warmer months in sight and a predicted flurry of overseas visitors to take advantage of the weaker pound, opportunities are out there for retailers with the right product and service offering.”
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Niki Wheeler or Rebecca Williams
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