By Daniel Hunter
The high street has not only survived the notoriously difficult month of February — it has recorded the best monthly growth since December 2011.
Figures released today from BDO’s monthly High Street Sales Tracker show overall like-for-like sales in February rose by 3.9%. Fashion sales grew 3.4%, homewares by 3.7% and non-fashion by 6.6%.
After being stuck indoors during the late January snowfall, shoppers burst onto the high street last month. Their pent-up desire to spend was released on beginning of year promotions that many retailers extended into the second month of 2013.
The homewares and non-fashion sectors benefited from department stores’ ability to cross-sell. Sales of gifts were particularly strong, boosted by a surge of early purchases for Valentine’s Day that started at the beginning of the month as shoppers snapped up bargains.
Retailers were also able to tap into the excitement of London Fashion Week. Spring lines have sold so well that footwear — traditionally the strong seller in February — was actually outsold by clothing in the first two weeks of February.
The growth is particularly impressive as it follows a flat beginning to the year, when monthly like-for-like sales dipped 0.4% despite a strong start.
“Retailers have given people a reason to spend by extending the January sales and shoppers have responded extremely positively," Don Williams, National Head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO LLP, said.
“The high street tends to dread February, but these results will be a fillip for retailers. The fact this year’s major snowfall was earlier flatter the figures slightly, but there is no doubt they reflect increasing consumer confidence.”
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