By Daniel Hunter

Figures released today (Monday) in BDO’s monthly High Street Sales Tracker show overall like-for-like high street sales grew by just 0.7% year-on-year in June.

Echoing last month’s performance, sales in the fashion sector continued to struggle, dipping 1.1% year-on-year, however strong figures in the homewares and non-fashion sectors — up 6.7% and 8.6% respectively — helped the overall picture by pulling it back to a broadly flat position.

While some non-fashion retailers profited by offering picky shoppers a diverse range of goods, the flat market meant their success was at the expense of others, depending on product offering and the prevailing conditions. The resurgent homewares sector benefited from a faltering housing market, with homeowners making home improvements while they wait for the market to pick up.

Don Williams, National Head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO LLP, said when it came to fashion, retailers are holding out for strong sales in the first fortnight of July.

“Promotions are falling later this year and the discounting is not as deep,” he explained. “Stores are holding out for higher prices so the current narrow discounting is geared towards generating footfall rather than sales. Although like-for-like sales remain an interesting gauge of high street performance this does nor paint the whole picture. Retailers are focused on protecting and improving margins and profitability which is a completely rational and sensible strategy.”

Williams also pointed to strong non-store sales (29.9%) where there is evidence of the way fashion retailers are shifting the way in which they discount.

“Some retailers are using the responsiveness of the web to move older lines in short, targeted online promotions that may only last a few hours,” he said, adding the non-store market still hasn’t hit a plateau. “Not many retailers have mastered the online channel. There is still room for improvement on optimizing the mobile experience and the security of mobile payments and the non-store market won’t mature until these areas have been fully addressed.” he said.

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