High street has worst month since financial crisis

British high street The August that has just gone was the worst month for Britain’s retailers since the crisis of 2008, according to a survey. Why? Well, everyone buggered off on holiday and the weather was lousy. Neither of these things helped.

Retail sales fell by 4.3% from the same time last year, according to accountancy firm BDO who look at things like this.

John Lewis, who are usually quite robust, had a 3% drop in August sales, and they're seen as a yardstick for how well things are going on the high street in general Paula Nickolds, buying and brand director at John Lewis, said: “A tough trading period closed with another difficult week, but with definite signs in the run-up to the bank holiday weekend that there is plenty of pent-up demand for us to target in September.”

What is concerning is that August is a key retail year, as it is the month when everyone gets down the shops to buy stuff for their kids going back to school, as well as buying warmer clothes for the imminent Autumn. Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Freddie George said: "These figures are thus in our view very disappointing probably impacted by consumers, particularly those based in the south, choosing to take holidays."

BDO said all areas of retail were pretty disappointing in August, with fashion sales dropping by 5.5%, homewares shrinking by 3.3% and lifestyle goods going down by 1.3%.

Sophie Michael, the head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said: "The high street was losing out as UK consumers opted to spend their disposable income on leisure pursuits, eating out and holidays. The strength of the pound has encouraged Brits to spend more abroad rather than in the UK."

What do you think?

Your comment