Retail sales flat as Boles backs high street flats

HIGH street sales fell flat in July but showed signs of recovery in the final week as consumers took a break from watching sport and headed back to the shops, figures out today show.

Like-for-like fashion sales were down 1.1 per cent in July compared to the same month last year, according to accountancy firm BDO’s sales tracker.

While some shops did well, others were caught out by the changeable weather, unsure of whether to stick to their summer ranges or switch to their autumn collections, BDO said.

Non-fashion and homewares sales propped up overall consumer spending, up 3.4 per cent and 4.2 per cent respectively.

But schools breaking up for the summer and the end of sports fixtures such as the British and Irish Lions helped to revive spending in the final week, with homewares and non-fashion sales up by 24.5 per cent and 11.6 per cent respectively, and fashion climbing 3.4 per cent.

Meanwhile, planning minister Nick Boles yesterday said that some high streets should be abandoned to housing due to the changing nature of retailing. He wants to allow landlords to convert most shops into flats or houses without planning permission in a bid to revive under used side streets.

Under the plans, councils will be asked to focus efforts on one or two streets designated as “prime retail frontage” which will be protected from housing development.

“We need to think creatively about how to help town centres thrive in this new era,” Boles told The Sunday Times.