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High street sales boosted by cooler weather, says BDO

The fierce autumn storms that lashed the UK last month sparked a rush for winter clothing, sending high street sales up after several months of poor trading.

Like-for-like sales increased 3.5 per cent in September, their fastest rise this year, according to figures from BDO, the accountancy firm that tracks trading across UK stores.

Many retailers have experienced a poor summer with shopping levels down as events such as the Olympics diverted people’s attention. The September figures mark a positive start for the run-up to Christmas, for most retailers a critical period retailers in which about half of all sales are made.

Don Williams, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said: “This was the first time this year that we have seen an interesting increase. There is slightly less depression around.”

The rise comes after a 0.5 per cent fall in trading in August and a 2.9 per cent dip in July. A number of retailers have gone into administration following difficult trading this year, including JJB Sports, Peacocks, Clinton Cards and Blacks Leisure.

Last week, however, brought positive signs from retailers such as Sainsbury’s the supermarket group, and Halfords, the car and bicycle parts company.

Mr Williams cautioned that it was still too early to call the end of the recession. September’s increase came against very weak figures last year, when an autumn heatwave caused retail sales to fall more than 5 per cent.

“Today’s consumer is still very cautious and considered, and retailers have to work very hard to get any share of sales,” Mr Williams said.

He added that BDO was expecting retail sales to be up about 1.5-2 per cent this year.

Shops selling clothing, gifts and leisure items reported increases, but shopping for homewares was down 5.3 per cent. Mr Williams said that shoppers remained cautious about spending on large items, such as sofas and white goods, especially with prices of more than £250.

Mr Williams said: “People are treating themselves to clothes or bags, but they are deferring spending on homewares, and making do with that uncomfortable sofa or old mattress for a little longer.”

Sales over the internet continued to grow by more than 32 per cent in September. Mr Williams said online shopping had been growing at rates consistently between 15 and 40 per cent each month. Internet sales now account for about 10-15 per cent of all sales in each category.

Source : Maija Palmer - Financial Times

08 October 2012
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Thank you for the excellent presentation that you gave at Woodbury Park on Thursday morning. It was very interesting and thought-provoking for our Retail members. The feedback has been excellent.

Martin Elliott. Chief Executive - Home Hardware.

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