Retailers pinning hopes on royal wedding to lift sales

High street retailers will be pinning their hopes on the royal wedding and forthcoming bank holidays after suffering their seventh month in a row without significant growth.

Erratic weather and poor sales over Easter resulted in retailers suffering a 3.8% drop in sales year on year in April, according to the BDO High Street Sales Tracker.

It makes April the seventh consecutive month that like-for-like sales have failed to grow by even a single percentage point.

Homewares was the worst performing sector last month with an 8.8% fall in sales, its poorest performance in more than a decade.

Sales in the lifestyle sector dropped for the third consecutive month by 3.7%, while like-for-like fashion sales fell 3.3%.

However, online fashion sales showed strong growth, increasing by 25.4% year on year to significantly outpace overall online growth of 16.4%, as the mini-heatwave enticed shoppers to refresh their wardrobes.

Accountancy and business advisory firm BDO said retailers were now pinning their hopes for May on a "much-needed spark to consumer confidence" from the royal wedding and two bank holidays.

Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said: "After another set of poor results, it's perhaps time for retailers to seek out emerging positive trends on which to reignite consumer spending.

"There are some encouraging signs that could provide a much-needed spark to consumer confidence.

"We have real earnings growth coupled with a royal wedding and two bank holidays around the corner. Maybe with the right weather, the combination of these factors could be just the boost retailers have been hoping for.

"But retailers must find ways to turn the shopper feel-good factor into sales of full-price lines.

"Chances to protect margins are few and far between, so its vital stores steer shoppers away from the discount rail by providing an appealing product range and a distinctive shopping experience."

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