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High streets across UK suffer another flat month of sales


BDO’s Sophie Michael

BDO’s Sophie Michael

BDO’s Sophie Michael

The high street has endured a seventh consecutive month without sales growth despite increasing consumer confidence and spending power, figures show.

August recorded a 1.5% drop in overall year-on-year sales, meaning that retailers have failed to increase figures since January, according to the BDO High Street Sales Tracker (HSST).

Sales of lifestyle goods, up 0.7% year on year on the back of tourists taking advantage of the weak pound and a flurry of sporting activity inspired by the Rio Olympics, could not compensate for a continuing poor performance by the fashion sector.

Heavy discounting failed to stem a 3.3% drop in fashion sales, which dropped by 9.6% in the last week of August as sales ended and many shoppers took a late summer holiday.

Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO LLP, said retailers had "failed to put last summer's woes behind them and deliver a positive story for 2016".

She said: "Footfall was up for most of August, but the majority of retailers struggled to consistently translate recent positive consumer sentiment and increased spending levels into in-stores sales. A real success story for some British retailers has been their ability to tap into shoppers' increasing desire to use non-store channels, and this will leave online savvy retailers very well positioned as shoppers' habits continue to evolve."

In July, NI's retailers enjoyed a welcome increase in shopper numbers, according to figures from the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC).

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