Homeware is ‘lone bright spot’ on high street, says BDO

Like-for-like in-store sales fell by -0.8% in June, according to the High Street Sales Tracker published by accountancy and business advisory firm BDO.

BDO said: ‘The poor performance comes from a weak benchmark of -1.7% for the same period last year and is a further blow to a struggling high street that has seen 16 out of 17 consecutive months of no in-store sales growth.

‘As discretionary spend continues to slow, in-store lifestyle sales performed especially poorly, falling -3.5% in June from a negative base of -0.3% last year [BDO defines ‘lifestyle’ as general household goods, gifts, health & beauty, leisure goods]. The result continues the run of no growth for like-for-like in-store lifestyle sales to 17 consecutive months.

‘Homeware [which BDO defines as cookware, furniture & floor coverings, lighting, linen & textiles] was the lone bright spot on the high street, as in-store sales increased +5.6% this month, but from a negative base of -2.4%.

‘While non-store [ie sales through the internet and mail order] like-for-like sales provided some relief this month (+16.5%), it marks the second lowest result for the category this year, despite recording a high of +21.02% in the middle of the month.’

Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO LLP, commented: “June was another washout month for the high street. We saw retailers discount early on in June, adding further pressure to tight margins, yet they still weren’t able to salvage the month.

“Retailers are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They want to invest and adapt but they don’t have the funds or confidence to do so. At the same time, shoppers are holding back as consumer confidence falls and discretionary spend slips away.”

She added: “June marked the third anniversary of the EU referendum – yet we still have no clear path forward. The uncertainty for both consumers and businesses is having a crippling effect. Time is running out and the government urgently needs to take action to help save the UK high street.”

The BDO High Street Sales Tracker outlines the weekly sales changes of more than 85 retailers with some 10,000 individual stores. These are mainly located on high streets throughout the UK.

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