BDO figures show High Street downturn

The high street is in the grip of its worst summer in six years, figures from BDO’s monthly High Street Sales Tracker have shown.

The tracker recorded a 1.1 per cent drop in year-on-year sales for July, marking the first time the months of May, June and July have all registered negative growth since 2009.

All sectors were hit by the downturn. Sales of fashion dipped 1.4 per cent year-on-year, lifestyle goods were down 0.5 per cent year-on-year and homewares saw a 1.1 per cent like-for-like drop in July.

The like-for-like fall is the fifth monthly dip of the year so far. Although not as severe as March’s 4 per cent drop and June’s 2 per cent drop, the high street appears to be losing out to bars and restaurants in the battle for consumers’ disposable income.

Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said the like-for-like figures should be taken in the context of a strong July 2014, but added retailers are still being hindered by unpredictable market forces.

"The political landscape is still settling down after the election and speculation over interest rate rises is creating uncertainty in the minds of retailers and consumers," she said.

"Retailers have reduced or delayed discounting compared to last year to pick the right moment. But many have held off well into the holiday season, and the reduced footfall has eaten into sales. If this trend of falling sales continues into August, 2015 will go down as a very gloomy summer on the high street."

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