UK retail sales jumped to their highest levels in three years in September, according to BDO’s monthly high street tracker.
Fashion like-for-like sales rose by 2.7% in the four weeks to 24 September. This compares with a decline of 5.9% for the same month last year.
Total UK like-for-like sales were up by 2.9% in September, but from a base of a 2.8% drop for the same month last year.
BDO said sales in September were buoyed by new autumn ranges, back-to-school spending and the “first flush” of Christmas shopping.
Positive sales growth occurred despite a steady slide in overall footfall, which was particularly hit by a drop in footfall on the high street.
Footfall at shopping centres started the month with a 2% year-on-year decrease, but ended September with a 1.7% dip compared to the same week last year.
However, footfall at retail parks saw growth in the first three weeks of the month, with a high of 3.4% growth in week two, before ending the month down by 1.5%.
BDO said: “As consumers turn their attention to Christmas shopping, the strain on personal finances is becoming more pronounced at a time when the Bank of England has issued warnings as to personal debt levels.
“As consumer confidence in the future of the UK economy trends down significantly, on a year-on-year basis, footfall figures for the month suggest that shoppers responded by limiting the number of purchasing visits they made in September.
“Retailers will need to continue to remain strategically agile in promoting and pricing quality offerings across all channels if they are to be successful in the critical final quarter of the year.”