Weak pound helps high street to best sales in two years

Solihull News - - BUSINESS NEWS - JOSIE CLARKE soli­hull­news@ trin­i­tymir­ror. com

THE UK high street has en­joyed its best month in al­most two years as the weak pound led to an in­flux of Bri­tish “stay­ca­tion­ers” and over­seas tourists.

Over­all like- for- like sales were up 2% last month, mak­ing it the best month since Septem­ber 2015 and the best Au­gust since 2013, ac­cord­ing to ac­coun­tancy and ad­vi­sory firm BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker.

BDO’s fig­ures show a marked rise in stay­ca­tions by Bri­tons and an in­flux of over­seas tourists – both of which have been driven by the weak pound – helped push sales of life­style goods up 3.1% year- onyear. Fash­ion sales saw like- for- like growth of 1.5% af­ter strug­gling all year to gen­er­ate growth – the sec­tor’s best per­for­mance since last Novem­ber – and home­ware sales were up 1.9% year- onyear.

How­ever, the over­all growth came af­ter two Au­gusts of neg­a­tive fig­ures, par­tic­u­larly in fash­ion where sales were down 3.3% last year 5.5% in 2015.

Foot­fall also de­creased through­out Au­gust as patches of bad weather damp­ened spend­ing.

So­phie Michael, head of re­tail and whole­sale at BDO LLP, wel­comed the fig­ures but said they should be taken in con­text. She said: “This in­crease is off the back of a 1.5% de­cline in 2016 and that fig­ure was based on a drop of 4.3% in 2015, so Au­gust is still prov­ing to be a chal­leng­ing month for re­tail­ers.

“Stay- at- home hol­i­day­mak­ers and in­creas­ing num­bers of tourists have made a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence to sales this month, but re­tail­ers would have wanted to make up more ground from the neg­a­tive like- for- likes re­sult­ing in Au­gust in prior years.

“As school terms be­gin af­ter the sum­mer break and the start of fes­tive trad­ing nears, re­tail­ers will be gear­ing up for their most crit­i­cal trad­ing months. The un­cer­tain en­vi­ron­ment and frag­ile con­sumer sen­ti­ment re­quires all re­tail­ers to be ever more strate­gic with their pric­ing and pro­mo­tional ac­tiv­i­ties.”

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