Brexit hits retail spending

The UK's decision to leave the EU in last month's referendum vote had an immediate impact on the high street, figures released today by BDO show, with garden centres also blaming bad weather and the impact of the Euro 2016 football tournament.

BDO’s monthly High Street Sales Tracker (HSST) recorded a -3.6 per cent fall in overall year-on-year
sales for June, making it the worst June in over 10 years.
Sales of lifestyle goods for the month were down -0.2 per cent compared to June 2015 and fashion
dropped to -4.9 per cent - the sector’s second lowest monthly figure so far this year. Sales of
homewares were down -6 per cent year-on-year and non-store sales rose just 15.8 per cent.
A strong start to June saw overall sales grow 3.8 per cent year-on-year in the first week, but the ‘Brexit effect’ hit retailers with increasing severity as the month wore on. Sales reversed to a
-3.1 per cent drop in the second week and by the final week of June – two days after the ‘leave’
campaign declared victory – overall year-on-year sales had plummeted -8.1 per cent.
BDO retail and wholesale head Sophie Michael said: "Many retailers may have hedged against the falling pound for the short term, but if sterling stays at these levels, the cost of importing goods and further
erosion to margin may need to be passed onto the consumer. It is even more important now for retailers to focus on their product offering and service. While reports suggest that average income has reached a historic high, the challenge for retailers is to convince consumers to spend their surplus income with them, amid the temptation of a post – Brexit spending paralysis."
In garden retail, online garden centre Primrose's Ian Charles said: "Wonderful May, but April and June were tough - we'r blaming the weather for those.
"The last couple of weeks were particularly slow - it could be weather/ Brexit /Euro 2016.
Generally, we think we are unaffected by economic slowdowns due to the profile of our customers (not many of them lose their jobs especially if they are retired). But very affected by weather, although in a whole year we generally think it evens out."
Garden Centre Association chairman Julian Winfield, of Haskins, said: "It's not been a fantastic season on the back of two or three good springs in succession." He said May was a record month and June was Haskins' second best ever, but "nowhere near as good as last year".
Haskins buying director Conna Powles said the impact of National Living Wage increases also had to be considered by retailers: "We're looking on the rest of the year as a challenge."

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