Fears for high street shops continue after figures show sales for February crash by more than 8%.
Despite a positive January, figures from BDO Stoy Hayward, which assess weekly sales of more than 60 mid-market shop chains, say that February will ‘go down in the record books as being an extremely difficult month for retailers’.
Sales across the high street dived by 8.1% year on year.
Home shops have difficult month
February saw homewares sales drop by 8%. The homewares sector has had a particularly challenging time, with large chains MFI and The Pier disappearing from the high street.
However, BDO Stoy Hayward said there were some signs that demand for larger ticket purchases such as furniture and lighting is beginning to stabilise.
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Fashion shop sales worst on record
Fashion stores were particularly hard hit. Sales were down 9.7% as the snow-hit February the UK saw this year meant shoppers were reluctant to buy spring ranges.
Non-fashion sales dipped by 3.7%, with gifts and luxury goods being the strongest performing sector. But BDO Stoy Hayward said that there were signs that sales of gifts and luxury items would wane.
January shop sales were just a blip
Rupert Eastell, head of retail at BDO Stoy Hayward, said: ‘As we feared, January’s positive sales figures were just a blip with results quickly reverting back to the negative levels experienced before Christmas.
‘Although there were a number of one-off events in February that distorted the picture, it is clear that consumers remain wary of making any purchases unless they are discounted heavily – value still appears to be very much at the forefront of shopper’s minds.’