High street suffers bleak July as hot weather fails to boost sales

The high street suffered a bleak July as soaring temperatures failed to boost sales, while online retailers saw their strongest growth for 18 months.

Shoppers turned to online retailers for their summer wardrobe fix, to the detriment high street stores, according to BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker for the month.

It reported that that like-for-like sales in high street stores were subdued, rising 0.1% in July, putting increased pressure on embattled retailers.

The figures failed to provide a desired boost, BDO said, following a “tough first half of the year”.

In-store lifestyle sales suffered the worst July on record, as sales decreased 3%, adding to decline from the previous year.

It was a more positive period for fashion stores, which saw sales rise by 1.2% in July, while the homeware category rebounded with 5.8% year-on-year growth during the month.

Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said: “2019 is proving to be a year to forget for the great British high street.

“Discounting has been relentless this summer – July’s flat sales figures will not only be disappointing for retailers but will also add further pressure to margins that are already being squeezed to the extreme.”

While the results were bleak for the high street, online retailers were buoyed by hot weather as shoppers refreshed their summer wardrobes.

Non-store sales rose by 20.5% for the month, representing the strongest figures for the category since December 2017.

Ms Michael added that, despite the accelerating growth of online sales, high street stores are still a key part of the retail landscape.

She said: “Traditional brands are in a difficult situation but the high street is still a very important part of the future of UK retail.

“While there will always be ‘pureplay’ online retailers, we shouldn’t be surprised to see more moves like this as online retailers turn to physical portfolios to create meaningful customer engagement.”

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