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BDO: DIY & gardening goods helped boost high street sales by 2% in March

Strong trading in homewares and a modest increase in fashion goods sales helped overall high street sales grow year-on-year in March, according to new figures published today.

The latest High Street Sales Tracker from accountancy firm BDO, which analyses like-for-like trading at 70 mid-tier retailers, revealed that overall sales were up two per cent in March compared to the same month last year.

Unseasonably warm weather encouraged spending on summer clothing and garden & DIY items, with homewares sales up 4.1 per cent and fashion sales up 1.7 per cent across the five weeks ending April 1st 2012.

Don Williams, National Head of Retail & Wholesale at BDO, said that the upturn in general trading would come as a relief to the sector with so many firms operating on such tight margins but he also warned that trading would tough in the coming months.

“The retailers holding their own have given themselves the best chance by doing everything they can to improve cashflow,” Williams explained.

“That means a continued focus on all available “self-help” strategies such as working and refining their property portfolios and relooking a at their supply chains.”

Away from the high street, BDO’s figures show that non-store sales, including online & mail order transactions, were up 25.6 per cent year-on-year which was slightly down on the growth seen in March 2011 but still representative of the growing importance of multichannel operations.

BDO claims that it is unclear yet whether this improvement to trading will be sustained during the coming months and said that consumer spending was in the middle of a “tentative recovery”.

Williams added: “We are not expecting any more significant dips in year-on-year sales in 2012, but we aren’t expecting any big leaps either.

“Retailers that drop their guard now and fail to keep a tight leash on their overheads whilst maintaining and enhancing service standards will find things increasingly tough later in the year.”

Source : Jon Whiteaker – Retail Gazette

10 April 2012
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