By Daniel Hunter

With victories for Andy Murray, the British & Irish Lions, the England cricket team and Team Sky’s Chris Froome, British sportsmen have recorded a string of triumphs in July. But the high street did not join our sporting heroes on the top spot of the podium.

Figures released today (Monday) in BDO’s monthly High Street Sales Tracker show overall like-for-like high street sales in July were flat (0.0%).

The only causes for optimism were non-fashion and homewares sales — both of which did relatively well (up 3.4% and 4.2% respectively).

Though some retailers recorded positive growth, performances continued to be polarised. Weaker performers struggled significantly, pushing fashion sales into a 1.1% year-on-year dip. As the country continued to veer between wintry wind and rain and a heatwave, retailers were caught on the hop, unsure of whether to switch to autumnal lines or keep faith in summer ranges.

It wasn’t until the final week of July that the high street saw better news, as schools broke up for the summer and consumers took a break from watching sport and headed to the shops. Homewares and non-fashion both recorded double digit year-on-year growth in the final week (24.5% and 11.6% respectively) and even like-for-like fashion sales were up 3.4%.

Don Williams, National Head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO LLP, said fashion retailers’ discounting strategies had played a big part in protecting margins, though cautious consumers and topsy-turvy weather had been a constant challenge for supply chains.

“On the positive side, discounting is nowhere near as deep or widespread as last year, and fashion stores are being really canny about buying stock specifically for discounting to get people through the door and in front of full price lines. But aside from market leaders such as Next and Zara, there is still simply not enough flexibility and speed in most retailers’ supply chains," he said.

“The results show how weather extremes can send things out of kilter for retailers who don’t have the ability to react quickly and haven’t invested in their products and customer experience. There’s an opportunity coming in the Autumn as consumer confidence starts to gain momentum, and retailers need to make sure they are positioned to take advantage.”

Join us on
Follow @freshbusiness