Sales at fashion retailers fell 1.4% in July

Sales at fashion retailers fell 1.4% in July

UK fashion sales continued on their downward trajectory in July, with the overall high street suffering its worst summer in six years.

Like-for-like sales at fashion retailers fell 1.4% year-on-year during the four weeks to 26 July, compared to a 0.7% drop in the same month last year, BDO's monthly High Street Sales Tracker found.

BDO said fashion retailers have been hit most by the continuing economic uncertainty, with discounting far more disjointed than in July 2014. Some retailers launched their summer sales earlier than usual and were hit by slumps in confidence from economic headwinds from the Eurozone. Those that chose to delay their promotions until August have suffered from declining footfall as shoppers headed abroad for their summer holidays.

Overall like-for-like sales (excluding non-store sales) were down 1.1%, marking the first time since 2009 that the three months of May, June and July registered consecutive negative results.

While non-store sales grew 14.6%, it was the lowest rise for the channel in the history of the High Street Sales Tracker.

Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said the like-for-like figures should be taken in the context of a strong July 2014, but added retailers are still being hindered by unpredictable market forces. "The political landscape is still settling down after the election and speculation over interest rate rises is creating uncertainty in the minds of retailers and consumers," she noted.

"Retailers have reduced or delayed discounting compared to last year to pick the right moment. But many have held off well into the holiday season, and the reduced footfall has eaten into sales. If this trend of falling sales continues into August, 2015 will go down as a very gloomy summer on the high street."