High street sales plummeted at the end of October despite a healthy start to the month after the announcement that the UK would head to the polls for a December general election.
The first three weeks of the month saw retailers defy poor footfall and challenging weather conditions to boost like-for-like in-store sales.
However, in the last week sales plunged 6.45 per cent from a base of minus 0.3 per cent as further Brexit delays and an upcoming general election dented consumer confidence as retailers geared up for the crucial Christmas trading period.
Overall, like-for-like sales increased 0.7 per cent, failing to offset a negative base of minus two per cent in October last year despite a hike in discounting and seasonal promotions.
Footfall fell every week in October, starting with a decline of 1.8 per cent that worsened to a fall of 5.3 per cent.
Meanwhile, online sales grew 17.4 per cent from a base of 10.5 per cent last year.
Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said: “Consumers were delivered a double blow of yet another Brexit delay combined with news of a general election during the crucial festive trading period.
“While the first three weeks of October may have brought hope to the high street, the final week was awful and came very close to negating the positive gains in the first weeks of October.”
Michael added: “Retailers stockpiling for a Brexit date that was ultimately delayed has only further alienated the relationship between retailers and government.
“As retailers continue to trade on paper-thin margins, and their pleas for business rates reform remain ignored, they enter the vital Christmas trading period facing a perfect storm of unfavourable conditions.”
Main image credit: Getty