Aug 7, 2020
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Fashion struggled in July says latest BDO sales tracker

Aug 7, 2020

July was a disappointing month for UK physical shops with it being the first full month since February that stores were open, but in-store like-for-like sales fell 39.4%, according to the latest monthly High Street Sales Tracker from BDO. This result marks six straight months of negative like-for-like sales this year.

Many UK shops stayed empty in July

While July was the third consecutive month of positive results for the homewares sector, “perhaps indicating the public’s continued appetite for home comforts, even after the easing of lockdown,” it was bad news for other key retail categories.

And that means fashion. Its in-store like-for-like sales sank by 50% in July from a base of +1.2% last year. This is the fifth month of negative like-for-like sales for in-store fashion.

July was also the sixth consecutive month of negative total like-for-like sales (-4.6%), which combines in-store and non-store channels, highlighting how higher online sales are still unable to make up for lost revenue through physical outlets.

Those online sales rose by 81.2% in July from a good base of +20.5% last year. However, the reopening of shops appears to have dampened its growth compared to April, May, and June which all saw non-store LFLs above +100%.

Sophie Michael, Head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO LLP, said: “July has marked yet another difficult month for struggling retailers. Despite initial optimism that the reopening of stores would see the high street bounce back, the July results tell a more difficult story. The reality is that footfall remains dismal, and some retailers opted for a more gradual approach to opening their estates last month while social distancing measures also continued to restrict capacity in-store.

“Low discretionary spend remains a major factor that will continue to place a limit on the high street’s rehabilitation. In addition, the end of the Government’s furlough scheme is likely to have a heavy impact on the retail sector, which accounts for almost 10% of British jobs and has relied heavily on the scheme. It is clear that the retail sector is essential to the broader economic recovery. With more high street chains at risk and further job losses predicted, recovery looks a long way off. The high street is crying out for a confidence boost but with the full impact of coronavirus on the UK economy yet to be realised, uncertainty will prevail for the foreseeable future.”

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