Tough January for UK’s mid-market retailers
Mid-market retailers saw a small drop in spending during January, with like-for-likes falling by 1.4 per cent compared to last year, according to the BDO High Street Sales Tracker. Sales plunged by double-digit levels during the first 10 days of the months in January, as the freezing weather and the transportation chaos that ensued, took its toll on the High Street. However, as the weather conditions became somewhat more hospitable later in the month, trade improved considerably, with fashion stores in particular ending the month on a high.
Across other categories, the recovery in trade was slower, with demand remaining negative for much of the month. Home-related stores were the biggest losers, due in large part to weak demand for furniture, while luxury and leisure stores also had a difficult month, handicapped by the New Year VAT increase.
Don Williams, head of Retail, BDO LLP commented: “Notwithstanding the negative weather impact, January was always going to be a difficult month, what with customers bringing forward the bulk of their purchases in December to take advantage of promotions ahead of the VAT increase. Given these factors it’s not a surprise to see sales fall.
However, there are signs that trade is now recovering especially across clothing stores. The big worry is that as we move through the year sales will suffer as economic fears take a grip.” he concluded.
Fashion: +0.4 per cent Fashion retailers saw takings marginally increase with like-for-likes up 0.4 per cent. Apart from the first week of the month, sales were higher throughout January on the back of seasonal demand and a successful transition to new season lines. Footwear and formalwear performed especially well.
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