Friday 4 October 2019 12:01 am

Worst September in eight years for high street sales

Last month was the worst September on the high street in eight years as sales in bricks and mortar stores plummeted. 

Total like-for-like in-store sales fell by 3.1 per cent last month from a base of minus 2.7 per cent last year, making it the worst September on the high street since 2011, according to the data published today by accountancy firm BDO.  

Read more: July 2019 worst on record for retail sales growth

In-store lifestyle sales tanked 5.4 per cent to the lowest level since the height of the recession in November 2008 as consumers were reluctant to splash out on unnecessary products in the face of ongoing uncertainty. 

BDO head of retail and wholesale Sophie Michael: “As the Brexit date looms, the financial uncertainty facing consumers is reflected in the lack of discretionary spend and the lowest lifestyle sales since and the lowest lifestyle sales since 2008.

“This, combined with the collapse of a big household name like Thomas Cook, seems to have unnerved the shopper even further. 

Wet weather dampened footfall figures in the month, which fell 5.8 per cent. Shopping centres were hit the hardest as footfall dropped eight per cent. 

Meanwhile, online sales growth slowed to 12.4 per cent.

Industry experts reiterated calls for the government to act to help struggling retailers.

Read more: UK retail sales unexpectedly fall in August

“Cash-strapped retailers are in dire straits. It has been a disastrous year for the high street and, as consumers continue to tighten their belts, they are entering the crucial ‘golden’ trading quarter on very unsteady ground. 

“Business owners have long-called for business rates reform and, while I agree this is needed, more urgent government action is required to help our failing high streets into 2020.”

Main image credit: Getty