By Daniel Hunter
A burst of unseasonably hot March weather sent shoppers heading for the high street and through the doors of grateful retailers, according to the latest figures from the BDO High Street Sales Tracker.
Mid-tier retailers saw like-for-like sales jump 2% year on year. An early taste of summer provided a much needed shot in the arm for the DIY sector, with homewares sales up 4.1% on last year.
As well as sprucing up their gardens, shoppers saw the warm weather as a chance to build their summer wardrobe. Fashion sales lifted 1.7% after shoppers took advantage of well-timed promotions.
Don Williams, National Head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO LLP, said the positive sales figures would have come as a relief as quarter day rent demands landed in retailers’ letterboxes. But he warned that recent high profile failures have shown the high street that it can’t relax its guard just yet.
“The retailers holding their own have given themselves the best chance by doing everything they can to improve cashflow,” he explained. “That means a continued focus on all available “self-help” strategies such as working and refining their property portfolios and relooking at their supply chains.
“We are not expecting any more significant dips in year-on-year sales in 2012, but we aren’t expecting any big leaps either. Retailers that drop their guard now and fail to keep a tight leash on their overheads whilst maintaining and enhancing service standards will find things increasingly tough later in the year.”
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