By Daniel Hunter
Online sales have brightened a wintry February, traditionally the toughest month of the retail calendar in which overall like-for-like sales were down 1.5% on last year.
Freezing temperatures in the first half of the month saw consumers shop from the comfort of their own homes — with online year-on-year sales up 27.9% for the month according to the latest figures from the BDO High Street Sales Tracker.
With like-for-like sales up 2%, non-fashion was the only other category to benefit from positive growth, bolstered by a strong performance by luxury retailers in the lead up to Valentine’s Day.
Conversely, fashion was down 2.5% year-on-year and experienced its worst month since October 2011 as the artic weather dampened early sales of spring collections.
Don Williams, National Head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO LLP, said:
“During strong trading periods like Christmas and slow ones like February, trends are magnified and trading performance becomes polarised between those who hold their own and those who find the going tough. Online is the engine room of growth for the sector and is still a way off reaching maturity — so those retailers with a strong multi-channel offer, that they continue to invest in and develop, are stealing a march on their competitors.
"Despite some positive economic indicators suggesting that retailers can approach the future with cautious optimism and the fact that these monthly sales figures are not as bad as many commentators predicted, there is still unlikely to be universal celebration in retailers’ boardrooms just yet.”
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