Christmas comes early for high street retailers as Indian summer pierces the gloom

consumer spending

Britain’s retailers have been treated to an Indian summer of sales with the high street enjoying its best September sales for five years, according to new figures from BDO.

Like-for-like sales increased by 2.9 per cent last month, the best monthly high street sales figures since April 2014, as some department stores reported some shoppers were already buying early Christmas presents, the Telegraph reports.

Quick-off-the-mark festive shoppers were also credited with boosting online sales by 30.4 per cent, the biggest increase since January 2015.

“Two consecutive months of positive growth will be a welcome relief for retailers following challenges seen in autumn in prior years,” said Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO. “Pulling off the best September sales growth for five years is a great result for the high street at the start of this critical trading period.”

Despite reports of dwindling shop footfall last month, like-for-like sales of lifestyle goods – which include sports equipment – rose during September, suggesting that customers were spending more.

Meanwhile, the struggling fashion sector was given a 2.7 per cent like-for-like sales boost as new autumn collections were helped by colder weather, which encouraged shoppers to spend money on warmer outfits. That compares with a 5.9 per cent slump last year when most of the country was treated to a last burst of warmer temperatures.

Homeware sales also inched 0.8 per cent higher, in line with updates from Topps Tiles and SCS, which have spoken of a uptick in recent trading.

However furniture retailers have been hit by a drop in consumer confidence as wage growth has slowed, meaning that shoppers are opting to defer big-ticket purchases.

“In a month when footfall is down, positive like-for-like sales figures demonstrate that shoppers are willing to spend,” said Ms Michael. “The favourable weather patterns in September cannot be ignored, particularly for fashion, but this result will be encouraging for retailers as we enter the final quarter of 2017.”