THE coldest spring for 50 years left fashion retailers nursing a fall in sales last month as shoppers held off from buying summery outfits, according to figures.
Clothing shops saw like-for-like sales fall 1.4% after a particularly poor final week in May, the BDO High Street Sales Tracker revealed.
But wider high street sales, excluding online traders, lifted by 0.8% thanks to buoyant trading earlier in the month, although BDO described the increase as “relatively insignificant” against the 1.3% hike seen a year earlier.
Don Williams, national head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said despite the chillier spring weather, fashion retailers held firm on prices. He said: “By factoring in lower sales forecasts and not over-committing to initial stock purchases, retailers are striving to avoid the difficulties that led to ‘blood on the high street’ in previous years.”
Homewares sales rose for the fourth month in a row, up 4.6%, and non-fashion sales increased by 8.5%.
BDO also said department stores played a key role in customer buying patterns as shoppers increasingly choose to shop in one place.
Separate figures for online retailers showed growth, with sales up 26.5% year-on-year in May – an improvement on the 24% leap reported a year earlier. BDO said the result for online sales was “solid, but not spectacular” as lower than expected results in the first and last weeks of the May brought the total figure down.