High street sales bounce back in January - but only in first two weeks as shoppers go bargain hunting

Kasmira Jefford
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Consumers In The Christmas Eve Retail Rush
High street sales rose but mainly in the first two weeks when sales were taking place (Source: Getty)

High street sales bounced back in January after a disappointing Christmas when sales recorded their worst performance for December since 2008.

Like-for-like sales grew by 1.4 per cent year-on-year sales in January, mainly driven by a strong performance in the first two weeks when consumers shopping the sales came out in force, according to BDO’s high street tracker released today.

Fashion retailers were the strongest performer recording a year-on-year rise of 1.9 per cent followed by homeware and furniture retailers, up 0.8 per cent

Lifestyle retailers, which includes consumer electronics, saw like-for-like sales rise by 0.3 per cent while non-store sales jumped by 20.2 per cent in the period although this was a slowdown on the 37.8 per cent rise recorded the previous year.

The accountancy firm said trading varied greatly over the four weeks, with fashion retailers posting a 6.8 per cent rise in the second week of the month before plummeting by 4.24 per cent in the final week as promotions ended and the cold temperatures kept shoppers away.

This dragged total like-for-like sales down by 3.96 per cent in the last week of January.

“The lull between Black Friday and the January sales was particularly noticeable at the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016,” Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said. “Retailers might be getting better at attracting the new generation of savvier shoppers in discounting periods, but margins will suffer unless they sell full-price stock too.”

“The strong retail performers demonstrate that consumers are willing to pay full price if they see a desirable product. The stores that will thrive in 2016 will be the ones who combine a strong customer service proposition with an attractive brand and a compelling product mix,” she added.

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