January retail sales up

Bargain hunters came out in force last month to give the UK high street a boost at the beginning of 2016, figures out today from accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP reveal.

BDO’s monthly High Street Sales Tracker (HSST) recorded a 1.4 per cent growth in year-on-year sales for January. Fashion sales were particularly strong, recording a year-on-year rise of 1.9 per cent for the whole of January. The lifestyle sector increased sales by 0.3 per cent and homewares sales grew by 0.8 per cent. Non-store sales rose by 20.2 per cent compared to the same period last year.

BDO’s December figures recorded the worst Christmas trading figures on the high street since 2008 (down 5.3 per cent year-on-year). With December stock to shift, retailers managed to attract bargain hunters in the traditional January sale period.

Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said: "The lull between Black Friday and the January sales was particularly noticeable at the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016. Retailers might be getting better at attracting the new generation of savvier shoppers in discounting periods, but margins will suffer unless they sell full-price stock too. "The strong retail performers demonstrate that consumers are willing to pay full price if they see a desirable product. The stores that will thrive in 2016 will be the ones who combine a strong customer service proposition with an attractive brand and a compelling product mix."

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