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UK high street sees best August in four years, according to BDO sales tracker

PUBLISHED: 08:39 08 September 2017 | UPDATED: 08:39 08 September 2017

High street sales rose in August. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

High street sales rose in August. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2016

An influx of British “staycationers” and overseas tourists driven by the weak pound helped the UK high street to enjoy its best month in almost two years.

According to accountancy and advisory firm BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker, overall like-for-like sales were up 2% in August, making it the best month since September 2015 and the best August since 2013.

Sales of lifestyle goods were up 3.1% year-on-year, helped by the rise in staycations by Britons and overseas visitors flocking to the UK.

After struggling all year to generate growth, fashion sales saw like-for-like growth of 1.5% – the sector’s best performance since last November – and homeware sales were up 1.9% year-on-year.

However, the overall growth came after two Augusts of negative figures, particularly in fashion where sales were down 3.3% last year 5.5% in 2015.

Footfall also decreased throughout August as patches of bad weather dampened spending.

Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO LLP, welcomed the figures but said they should be taken in context.

She said: “This increase is off the back of a 1.5% decline in 2016 and that figure was based on a drop of 4.3% in 2015, so August is still proving to be a challenging month for retailers.

“Stay-at-home holidaymakers and increasing numbers of tourists have made a positive difference to sales this month, but retailers would have wanted to make up more ground from the negative like-for-likes resulting in August in prior years.

“As school terms begin after the summer break and the start of festive trading nears, retailers will be gearing up for their most critical trading months. The uncertain environment and fragile consumer sentiment requires all retailers to be ever more strategic with their pricing and promotional activities.”

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