Retailers have been told that the worst may be over as the latest figures from BDO revealed the full extent of a predicted tough March.
Annual sales growth on a like-for-like basis in March dipped by 1.2 per cent. Even a late Mother’s Day couldn’t prevent non-fashion sales slumping to a fall of 1.7 per cent.
The only improvement was sales made through online channels, which grew by 48.9 per cent, nearly matching January’s rise of 49 per cent.
While the year-on-year figures were the worst since January 2010, retailers were expecting a poor month. Last year’s earlier Easter gave 2010’s March figures an extra boost and retailers had expected the recent Budget to dent consumer confidence.
However, the worst should now be over, explained Don Williams, national head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO: “April will be a much better month for retailers.
“Combine Bank Holidays, Easter and the Royal Wedding with some good weather, and the UK consumer’s inclination to shop will be hard to suppress.”
To take best advantage of the spring bounce, Williams advises retailers to focus on targeting consumers with higher quality products sold on modest promotions. He also stresses retailers need to ensure they are offering consumers as many ways to shop as possible.
“The acceleration of non-store sales proves how valuable this channel is,” said Williams. “Consumers want convenience, and that increasingly means the ability to conduct transactions through smartphones as well as the internet.”