High street retailers muster small growth in January

Consumers shifted their spending from material goods to experiences in the post-Christmas period

Josie Clarke
Friday 09 February 2018 01:16 GMT
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Growth during the traditional post-Christmas discounting season was the lowest seen in five years
Growth during the traditional post-Christmas discounting season was the lowest seen in five years (PA)

High-street retailers mustered only “glacial” growth in January as consumers shifted their spending from material goods to experiences, figures have shown.

Total like-for-like sales grew at 0.6 per cent last month as stores avoided a repeat of the previous January’s 0.1 per cent fall, according to advisory firm BDO’s high street sales tracker.

Sales of lifestyle goods and homeware both recorded year-on-year increases of 0.8 per cent, with fashion stores recording a like-for-like increase of 0.5 per cent.

Excluding last January, the growth during the traditional post-Christmas discounting season was the lowest seen in five years.

The poor figures for the New Year sales follow a disastrous festive quarter of trading when overall like-for-like high street sales dropped 2.3 per cent in December alone, the fifth successive December to record negative sales growth.

However, retailers failed to attract online shoppers during the month’s cold weather as sales grew by just 17.4 per cent, the first January to post growth below 20 per cent since 2010.

Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said: “The glacial pace of growth on the high street reflected the extent to which consumers are shifting their spending from material goods to experiences while simultaneously seeing their disposable income shrink.

“High-street retailers face intense competition for consumers’ attention at the moment,” Ms Michael added.

“In the battle for the consumer purse and with so much choice across all retail channels, it is vital that retailers maintain their investment in the customer experience and a differentiated product while protecting their margins against the backdrop of rising retailer costs.”

PA

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