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Tough December for stores as fashion sales suffer drop

By Josie Clarke

The high street failed to rally at the end of a dismal year for retailers as they suffered a fourth poor December in a row, new figures show. Christmas spending failed to push figures into the black, with like-for-like sales down 0.1% - the fourth consecutive December with no high street growth, according to the BDO High Street Sales Tracker.

Year-on-year sales of fashion goods were down 1.07%, but the overall figure was pushed up by increases in lifestyle goods, up 2.4%, and homewares, up 2.6%.

BDO warned that while the December fall of 0.1% might appear marginal, it followed December 2015's year-on-year drop of 5.3% - the worst like-for-like monthly performance since December 2008.

This year's decline from such a weak base would be "a serious disappointment", the report said.

BDO LLP head of retail and wholesale Sophie Michael said: "With such a weak base for December 2015, any further decline can only be seen as a poor result for retailers."

She said the performance highlighted the "magnitude" for the challenges posed by rising inflation and a weaker pound.

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