August marked six months of sustained retail recovery, boosted by online spending and buoyant consumer demand, new figures by accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP reveal.
While total like-for-like (LFL) sales, combined in-store and online, increased by +20.1% in August from a base of -3.3% for the equivalent month last year, Sophie Michael, Head of Retail and Wholesale at the firm, cautioned that “dwindling stock may cast a chill as the forthcoming golden quarter trading nears and supply chain disruptions begin to bite.”
According to BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker (HSST), August was the sixth consecutive month of positive total like-for-like sales. Persistent growth across online channels (+20.0%) provided a firm foundation while footfall struggled to rebound to the levels recorded two years ago.
Total like-for-like sales jumped by +29.05% in the first week of August from a base of -5.60% for the same week last year. The second week of the month saw total like-for-like sales rise by +23.39% from a negative base of -6.65% last year. Total like-for-like sales increased again through the middle of the month (+25.60% and +22.01%) from diminished bases (-8.61% and -2.42%) during the equivalent weeks last year. Leading into the late-August bank holiday weekend, total like-for-like sales improved by +14.96% from a base of +5.62% for the same week last year.
Fashion, lifestyle and homeware all recorded positive total like-for-like sales in August, buoyed by the online shopping boom.
Fashion total like-for-like sales shot up by +27.6% this month, though from a base of -5.1% for August last year. Total like-for-like sales for fashion recorded consistent growth in each week of August, leading to the sixth consecutive month of positive total like-for-like sales for the sector.
Lifestyle total life-for-like sales also increased by +20.6% in August, but from a base of -11.0% for the equivalent month last year. August marked the sixth straight month of positive like-for-like sales for total lifestyle aided by consistent online growth.
Homeware total like-for-like sales rose by +10.1% in August from a base of +22.0% for the same month last year. Online channels bolstered total homeware in all but the final week of the month, when the category recorded negative total like-for-like sales (-2.32%). Nonetheless, August marked the seventeenth consecutive month of positive like-for-like sales for total homeware.
Sophie Michael, Head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO LLP, said:
“The August results mark six months of sustained retail recovery, clearly showing that consumers are still willing to spend above expectation. However growth rates are gradually slowing, with one reason potentially being that retail spending is starting to level-off following the post-lockdown surge in consumer demand. Of course, with the critical golden quarter just around the corner and continued supply chain pressures, spurred by labour shortages and the Delta variant, potential challenges lie ahead.
“There is the risk that ongoing disruption and growing costs for retailers could lead to higher prices and fewer choices for shoppers in the lead-up to Christmas. It may seem like a distant concern, but with logistics experts suggesting that some issues are unlikely to be resolved until early 2022, the next couple of months will require careful planning by retailers and could prove to be crucial in order to avoid Christmas woes.”
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Harry Shanahan-Jones or Sophie Isles
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