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August like-for-likes worst for two years

August was the worst month for like-for-like sales on the high street in two years as rioting and looting took its toll.

According to the BDO High Street Sales Tracker mid-market retailers reported an 2.2% year-on-year sales drop in August. All sectors saw a sales dip for the four weeks to August 28 with fashion sales slumping by 2.4%. Mainstream fashion brands were particularly hard hit by the drop in footfall.

Non-store sales however held up strong and rose by 40.2% year-on-year.

Don Williams, national head of retail and wholesale at BDO said: “Ever since the recession hit, smart retailers have been working flat out to keep consumers spending in an extremely tough trading environment. But the scale and ferocity of the disruption we saw in August was a real body blow.”

However Williams said that August’s bleak figures were compared against a strong August in 2010.

He added: “We don’t expect the pressure on consumer confidence to ease – or the cash they have in their pockets to increase – so we’re not expecting the sort of ‘keep calm and carry on’ sales uplift that we might see if the economy was in better health.

But retailers should bear in mind the British consumer has consistently shown itself to be a resilient creature and shoppers should start to return to retailers who give them great products, prices and service. Volumes will remain subdued over the next couple of months, but the overall level of spend should hold.”

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