Warm weather and Easter fail to revive high street sales

Good weather, school holidays and Easter have failed to salvage the country’s suffering high streets in April, figures show.

UK high street sales were down 0.4% year-on-year off an already poor 3.8% fall for the same month last year, according to BDO’s high street sales tracker (HSST).

It also marked the third month of in-store sales decline so far this year and fifteen months of little to no growth for the UK’s beleaguered high street.

The lifestyle sector saw in-store sales fall by 0.4%, marking the fifteenth consecutive month of no growth, despite a slight uptick during the record-setting warm Easter weekend.

The warm weather also failed to encourage shoppers to update their wardrobes, with fashion sales down 0.8% on the back of last year’s 3.3% drop.

Homeware sales were up 0.6% in April but made little indent on last year’s 8.8% fall.

Non-store like-for-like sales grew by 18.3% last month as shoppers continued to gravitate online.

Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said: “Whilst a marginal drop in sales may not on the face of it seem significant, it has to be taken in the context of a low benchmark and, crucially, what should have been perfect shopping conditions last month.

“With record warm weather, Easter holidays and more Britons taking staycations, April should have been a bumper month for high-street retailers. Instead, these factors couldn’t prevent further decline.

“Real-wage growth and low unemployment usually prompt hope for retailers, but these are still not filtering through to spending.

“Changing consumer habits and the gradual shift to ‘just buying less’ as ethical and sustainable efforts gather pace could also be playing a part of the consistently poor retail performance.”

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