Friday 8 March 2019 9:36 am

High street suffers worst February in a decade as retail woes continue

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Half-term holidays and unseasonably warm weather failed to boost the struggling high street as retailers suffered their worst February in a decade.

In-store like-for-like sales dropped 3.7 per cent last month, marking the worst figures since 2009, according to data published by accountancy firm BDO.

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The decline, which represents the thirteenth consecutive month of negative growth, came despite Valentine’s Day, half-term holidays and a spell of warm weather at the end of the month.

The squeeze on sales was felt most acutely by lifestyle retailers, which suffered their worst monthly trading since November 2008.

Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said: “It has been a tough start to the year for the sector and retailers are continuing to fill headlines with poor performances. Brexit uncertainty is proving to have a disproportionate impact on discretionary spending and there’s an increasing sense of nervousness among retailers.”

“As the March quarter rent date draws near, and hard on the heels of the poor Christmas trading already reported, it will not be a surprise if we hear of more retail names announcing further structural changes as the sector realigns to this new retail world,” she added.

Read more: Consumer spending growth slows and retail sales fall on Brexit fears

Online retailers also had a tough month, showing faltering consumer confidence is taking its toll away from the high street.

Non-store sales rose a sluggish 12.4 per cent in February, down from a 15.8 per cent boost the year before.