Mid-market retailers saw sales drop by 1.4 per cent year-on-year, the fashion sector taking the biggest hit with a 6.1 per cent reduction in the last week of 2014.
Sales of lifestyle goods went up by 3.5 per cent, and homewares increased by 8.2 per cent. However, BDO claimed this was not enough to make up for “a combination of unhelpful weather conditions and unfamiliar shopping patterns”. An unseasonably warm autumn left retailers with stock to shift, and many shoppers were absent from stores in December following the Black Friday rush in November.
Sophie Bevan, the head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said: “When like-for-like sales dropped by over three per cent in the second week of December, retailers started to get nervous, resulting in early discounting. But we will not see the real cost that these heavy promotional activities have had on margins until the post-Christmas reckoning of results.”