Bank holiday heatwave scorches high street sales

Soaring temperatures and Brexit uncertainty led to a dire month for the high street in August, figures show.

Store sales fell 0.1% off an already poor base of minus 2.7% a year earlier, according to the BDO High Street Sales Tracker.

The final week of the month resulted in a calamitous fall in sales as record-setting temperatures kept customers away.

The last week of August saw total in-store like-for-like sales plummet by minus 5.10% from an already negative base of minus 1.10% for the equivalent week last year.

The result marks six months of negative like-for-like in-store sales this calendar year, as shoppers tighten their belts in the face of mounting Brexit uncertainty.

In-store lifestyle sales fell 1.8%, culminating in 19 months of no growth for the category, as retailers head into the crucial Christmas trading period.

The hot weather did not affect online shopping, with non-store sales increasing by 18.6%.

Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said: “2019 continues to deliver bad news for the British high street, with crumbling consumer confidence and growing uncertainty discouraging discretionary spend.

“With another worrying month of no growth and a Government distracted by Brexit negotiations and now a potential general election, retailers are heading into the crucial Christmas period on very unsteady footing.”

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