High Street needs 'Spring bounce'

After a tough February, High Street retailers are looking forward to a spring upturn, according to latest figures.
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Figures from BDO LLP confirmed retailers were forced to weather a stormy February.

Overall, like-for-like sales in February were flat, rising by only 0.3 per cent. Fashion sales grew by 0.9 per cent, while non-fashion and homewares dropped 0.7 per cent and 0.6 per cent respectively. Online sales grew by 32.9 per cent, down from January’s astounding rise of 49 per cent.

With January sales and VAT-freeze promotions finished, and Valentine’s day the only event of any significance, mid-market retailers had been bracing themselves for an “ugly” February, says Don Williams, national head of retail and wholesale at BDO LLP.

However, retailers were breathing a sigh of relief that year-on-year growth was still positive – even when compared to particularly strong figures this time last year.

"Consumers’ nervousness about the future meant this was always going to be the toughest month in a tough quarter,” said Williams. "With fewer trading days, February is a miserable month for retailers at the best of times.

"However, there are chinks of light for retailers. First, although flat, sales are still growing. Secondly, in four weeks it will be April. That means brighter days and three Bank Holiday weekends in a row for people to hit the shops.

"When we are looking back at 2011, the numbers won’t be inspiring, but they won’t be awful," he added.

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