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March sees worst fashion sales on record

Storm Emma, the “Beast from the East” and heavier than average rainfall across March led to the worst month on record for in-store fashion sales, according to the BDO’s monthly high street tracker.

The monthly figures saw like-for-like sales for March fall by 12.7% compared to the same month in 2017.

The BDO report stated: “The extreme weather conditions and tough trading environment meant that March was the worst month on record for in-store fashion sales, the next worst being November 2008 (11.4%)”.

In-store fashion sales were hit hardest by the winter storms in the first week of March, dropping by almost a third at 31.78%

Week two, which included Mother’s Day saw sales rise by 2.42%, however a return of the wintry weather in week three saw like-for-like sales decline in-store by 9.28%.

As the snow continued to linger on, week four also ended significantly down (11.68%), going up against a negative week ending in Mother’s Day the year before.

Lifestyle, homeware and non-store sales also fell in the month, with lifestyle falling by 4.5%, homewares dropping by 13.2% and non-store sales falling by 11%.

Footfall on the high street was also down in each week of March, with the low of -19.4% again attributed to severe weather in the first week of the month. Retail parks saw footfall down by 12.8% in week one.

However, footfall at retail parks was up in week two (3.1%), though returned to the negative for the last two weeks of the month. According to the BDO the pattern was repeated for shopping centres, where footfall was down by 18.1% in week one, only growing in week two (3.6%).

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