Retail sales up – but off the back of a weak 2011

After months of flat or negative growth, the high street is finally showing signs of a recovery, according to accounting specialist BDO.

Figures released in its September High Street Sales Tracker show the best growth all year, as like for like sales rose 3.5 per cent in September.

The fierce storms that lashed the country at the end of last month sparked a rush for winter clothing, pushing fashion up three per cent year on year.

This was a marked turnaround from the 5.1 per cent drop in like for like growth this time last year following 2011’s late heatwave.

Non-fashion grew by seven per cent year on year, buoyed by strong performances in gifting and leisure, beauty and luxury sales, while non-store sales recovered from an ‘Olympic lull’, growing by 32.5 per cent, with the majority of retailers seeing double digit growth.

The only category to miss out on the spending bonanza was homewares, which dipped by 5.3 per cent year-on-year as the housing market continued to struggle.

“These figures are being compared against a relatively weak 2011, but the predicted Olympic afterglow seems to have helped boost sales everywhere apart from homewares,” says Don Williams, national head of retail and wholesale at BDO.

“The autumnal weather has certainly provided a welcome fillip for fashion sales too.

“Next month’s figures will give us a better idea of how strong the recovery is, but we expect growth to remain positive in the run up to Christmas.”

The BDO High Street Sales Tracker analyses like for like spending at non-grocery retailers with annual sales of between £5 million and £500 million.

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