Like-for-like sales at fashion retailers edged up just 0.7% in January

Like-for-like sales at fashion retailers edged up just 0.7% in January

January proved to be another “disappointing” month for UK fashion retailers, with sales growth offset by widespread discounting, according to new figures.

According to BDO's High Street Sales Tracker, like-for-like sales at fashion retailers edged up 0.7%, making it the first month of sales growth since August. But discounting hit core product lines and undermined efforts to release new lines early. Mainstream fashion was down every week barring the first, BDO said, adding that while the more specialist retailers certainly faired better, the market was polarised.

Overall like-for-like sales (excluding non-store sales) increased 2% during the five weeks to 1 February, compared to a 7.9% rise in the same period of last year. BDO said this was predominately held up by the post-Christmas sales.

Meanwhile, non-store sales grew 37.8% - above expectations and up from the 27.2% increase seen in the same month a year ago.

“The widespread discounting strategy that many retailers have adopted towards the latter part of 2014 has had a knock-on effect on the traditional January sales,” said Sophie Bevan, head of retail and wholesale at BDO.

She added that although shoppers flocked to the stores in that first week after Christmas, they lost interest pretty quickly after that – a completely different picture to last year.

“Despite the falling prices in oil and weekly food costs, the uncertainty surrounding the general election and negative news by the big supermarkets leaves consumers less inclined to spend. Consumers need a prolonged period of increases in their discretionary incomes to instil the confidence to motivate them to spend.”