Belfast Telegraph

Weather hits retail sales growth

Retail sales growth eased back last month as clothes stores suffered amid volatile weather, according to new figures.

BDO's monthly high street tracker showed like-for-like sales across the retail sector, excluding grocery and online sales, increased by 0.6% last month - down sharply on the 3.5% surge recorded in August.

Fashion sales fell 2.1% in September in a "challenging" month for clothing retailers as they were buffeted by changeable weather conditions, according to accountancy and business advisory firm BDO.

It added that sales progress was held back as many firms chose not to launch heavy discounts in favour of protecting their profits.

Retailers were also up against strong comparatives from a year earlier, when w idespread discounting saw sales leap 3.5% higher.

Don Williams, national head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said: "September saw a game of nerve being played, with bolder retailers driving footfall and conversion imaginatively rather than resorting solely to price led promotion."

BDO added that retail sales were moving back into a "more regular pattern of growth".

Homewares retailers continued to enjoy double digit sales growth, up 12.8%, thanks to Britain's housing market revival, helping non-fashion sales overall rise 3.7%.

Online sales growth slipped to 23.7% from 26.7% in August, the report found.

BDO tracked sales at around 85 non-grocery retailers with annual sales of between £5 million and £500 million.

Official figures showed retail sales volumes fell 0.9% month-on-month in August as spend on food slumped after the barbecue boost from July's heatwave.

But recent survey evidence suggests sales have since picked up, with the CBI recording its best reading for more than a year in September.

The business group's survey found 46% of firms reported sales volumes up on a year ago while 12% said they were down, giving a positive balance of 34% which was the strongest since June 2012.

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