High streets suffer worst September since 2011 as Brexit looms

UK high streets have suffered their worst September in eight years due to Brexit uncertainty, store closures, falling footfall and wet weather.

According to the latest High Street Sales Tracker by advisory firm BDO LLP, total in-store like-for-likes fell by 3.1 percent this month from an already negative base of -2.7 percent for September last year, marking the worst in-store September like-for-likes since 2011. Total non-store like-for-likes recorded growth of 12.4 percent this month from an unexceptional base of 11.6 percent last year.

In-store like-for-likes for fashion declined by 2.0 percent in September from a low base of -2.8 percent for the same month last year - the first negative result following a three month-run for in-store fashion with no negative like-for-likes.

Footfall for the month began by recording a decline of 2.5 percent and concluded with its largest fall of 5.8 percent partly due to wet weather.

Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO LLP, said in a statement: “As the Brexit date looms, the financial uncertainty facing consumers is reflected in the lack of discretionary spend and the lowest lifestyle sales since 2008. This, combined with the collapse of a big household name like Thomas Cook, seems to have unnerved the shopper even further.

“Cash-strapped retailers are in dire straits. It has been a disastrous year for the high street and, as consumers continue to tighten their belts, they are entering the crucial ‘golden’ trading quarter on very unsteady ground.

“Business owners have long-called for business rates reform and, while I agree this is needed, more urgent government action is required to help our failing high streets into 2020.”

Photo credit: Pixabay, chafleks





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