May proved to be a "difficult" month for UK high street sales

May proved to be a "difficult" month for UK high street sales

UK fashion sales were hit particularly hard in what proved to be a "difficult" May, as a lack of discounting meant retailers were unable to translate lower footfall levels into sales.

According to BDO's monthly High Street Sales Tracker, like-for-like sales at fashion retailers fell 1.5% year-on-year in May, compared to a 0.7% rise in the same month a year ago. It comes after the category saw a return to positive territory in April, when fashion sales increased 2%.

Overall like-for-like sales (excluding non-store sales) edged down 0.9% during the four weeks to 31 May, with footfall down again. BDO described it as a "disappointing" result given the economy entered deflation and consumers’ supposed higher disposable income.

Non-store sales increased 24.8% year-on-year, down from growth of 34.4% last year.

"The uncertainty around the election outcome lasted right up until the exit polls, but we didn’t see much evidence of pent up consumer demand once the results were declared," said Sophie Bevan, head of retail and wholesale at BDO.

"With decreasing footfalls, the retail environment remains particularly challenging and retailers will have to continue to focus on all aspects including customer service and getting their products right to see growth this summer whilst also focussing on their own operating models to protect margins."