RETAIL UPDATE: Sales continue to decline

Total sales for the week ending May 24th 2009 were down three per cent, the worst week since the beginning of March.
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There are a few sectors, which bucked the trend and saw increases in sales, however. Most notably non-store sales surged by 46.1 per cent.

Non-fashion sales were also up by 5.1 per cent and remained positive with speciality and luxury retailers doing well. The luxury market remains solid, helped by ongoing reports of higher tourist-related spending, while outdoor specialists also had a good week.

By comparison, fashion sales were down by 5.1 per cent. Only a handful of stores bucked the general negative picture, with specialists and youth ranges fairing best.

Big ticket impulse spending appeared to suffer the most, with consumers appearing to be unwilling to purchase items at full price.

Homeware stores saw takings decrease by double-digit levels for the second consecutive week, with sales down 13.3 per cent. Although promotions did give a short-term boost to some stores, this was offset by lower core demand across most product categories.

Rupert Eastell, head of retail at BDO Stoy Hayward, said: ”The recent trend of mixed results continued this week with positive non-fashion figures cancelled out by negative figures from fashion and homeware retailers.

“As a result, overall like-for-like sales decreased for a third week in a row, falling by three per cent. This suggests although underlying demand is still higher than the depressed levels witnessed during autumn last year, conditions are becoming progressively more difficult.

“However, retail sales are still not as bad as many had been anticipating, so there are still pockets of optimism on the UK’s High Streets,” he concludes.


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