High Street holds steady over Christmas

Despite being the coldest December in 100 years, sales drop by only 0.5 per cent.
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Year-on-year sales dropped by just 0.5 per cent in December (five weeks to January 2nd 2011).

Non-fashion sales grew slightly by 0.9 per cent year-on-year, due to a last minute rush before Christmas and early promotions.

Total sales for the month were buoyed by frenetic trade during the traditional New Year rush. Takings in the week after Christmas rose 8.3 per cent compared to the same week in 2009 as shoppers rushed to beat the January VAT rise.

Even dire warnings of a mountain of orders piling up in snowbound warehouses didn’t deter consumers from shopping online. Non-store sales were up 45 per cent in December year-on-year.

BDO national head of retail and wholesale, Don Williams, said: “Snow is a convenient distraction for retailers with deeper underlying problems. While these figures are disappointing, put in context of the poor weather, a dip of less than one per cent is not nearly as bad as it could have been.

"Retailers like John Lewis reported healthy sales growth despite the weather. Despite being snowed in for two weeks, UK consumers showed they will still buy from retailers offering good products and a good service.”

The BDO High Street Sales Tracker analyses like-for-like spending at non-grocery retailers with annual sales of between £5m and £500m.

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