Lack of promotions saw high street sales fall in October, reports BDO

Shoppers played 'cat and mouse' with retailers, leading to flat high street sales in October as the lack of promotions failed to encourage shoppers to increase spending

BDO's monthly High Street Sales Tracker (HSST) recorded a year-on-year sales dip of 0.2 per cent for the month.

Fashion sales were the hardest hit, with a 0.4 per cent fall year-on-year in October. The lifestyle sector dipped slightly by 0.2 per cent, while the only uptick came from the sale of homewares, which was up 3.8 per cent compared to the same period last year.

The flat growth in October is a reality check after an exceptional September saw its best figures since 2012, reporting the highest monthly rise since April last year.

Fashion retailers were hit by an unseasonably warm October that stymied sales of winter lines, while promotions failed to encourage shoppers to increase spending from a similarly weak period last year.

Some retailers launched flash sales to try and shift stagnant autumn lines to some success, but this was not enough to push sales into positive territory.

Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said: "A mixed pattern of discounting failed to incentivise shoppers, many of whom may well be holding out for a discounting bonanza at the end of the month.

"The fulfilment problems and general chaos around Black Friday last year were well documented, but it looks like the early build-up to this year’s version in the media may have added to a general reluctance to pay full price."  

"A warm October has reduced the immediate need for a winter wardrobe, and has only added to the challenges resulting in an overall decline in retail sales. Consumers are incredibly savvy and retailers need to find the discounting strategy that will take advantage of consumers’ increased spending confidence as Christmas approaches."

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