Poor weather hampered fashion sales in December

Poor weather hampered fashion sales in December

Pre-Christmas discounting failed to offset a decline in fashion sales for UK retailers in December, after the sector was hit by poor weather and savvy bargain hunters.

The BDO High Street Sales Tracker showed fashion sales fell 4.6% year-on-year, despite sales picking up slightly at the end of the month.

Overall, like-for-like sales among mid-market retailers fell 2.2%. Last minute present shopping saw non-fashion sales pick up in the final week, offsetting a weak start to the month, but finished up 2%.

Meanwhile, non-store sales jumped 31.1% year-on-year, helped by a 55.7% increase in the week before Christmas.

Don Williams, national head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said the online figures illustrate just how critical it is for retailers to invest in online routes to market.

"Many retailers will feel disappointed with reduced footfall in stores but when the technology is right this shows that this need not be a disaster," he added.

"The big rise in the last week of December when we started to see discounting shows that consumers are prepared to hold out until the last minute to pick up a bargain."

This suggests, Williams noted, the January sales will encourage shoppers to part with their money, but warned there is little room for complacency.

"January is a cruel month for the high street as retailers are usually sitting on high cash holdings and low stock levels so they are particularly exposed at this time of year."