February miserable month for UK retail

London - The month of February was as miserable for its cold weather snap as it was for UK retail.

Following the release of the disappointing figures from BDO High Street Sales Tracker on Friday, the high street saw sales slide for the fifth year in a row.

Sales have been down since 2013

Bricks and mortar sales have been in a well-documented decline every February since 2013. In-store sales have not fared much better and haven’t seen positive growth in four of the last five months.

Fashion like-for-likes were down by -1.9 percent in February from a base of -3.4 percent for the equivalent month last year.

February miserable month for UK retail

In-store fashion LFLs have now not been positive in February since 2013. Following a positive result in January (+0.5 percent), in-store sales have been negative for fashion in four of the last five months.

Down in each week of February, the low came in week four when fashion had its poorest weekly in-store result of the year to that point (-4.44 percent), falling off further from a poor equivalent week last year that was hit by Storm Doris (-4.51 percent).

According to Visa payment services, fashion spending fell 1.6 percent last month, despite February being the month with new collection drops and spring season merchandise. The drop in sales was especially felt knowing inflation is running at approximately 3 percent.

British Retail Consortium CEO Helen Dickinson stated: “Looking ahead, there’s some hope that shopper activity will pick up now that inflationary pressure has started to subside and wage growth is expected to move in the right direction. But this will offer only modest relief to retailers and consumers and the recent sad news announcing the closures of several well-known high street retailers should sharpen our focus to what is going on in retail in the UK at present.”

“Retailers are facing into rapid structural change from digital evolution and rising operating costs. We know that there will be fewer stores in the future as portfolios are consolidated, so businesses and communities need to focus on repurposing physical space based on experience and refining the interplay with digital. For policymakers meanwhile, it is about recognising and acting on the disproportionate impact these headwinds are having on vulnerable communities up and down the country.”

Photo credit: Pexels, graphic: BDO High Street Tracker


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