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Worst September in stores for eight years

In-store sales fell by 3.1% in September – the worst fall since 2011 – as high-profile closures and uncertainties continue to knock consumer confidence.

The BDO High Street Sales Tracker shows that total sales fell by 0.7% during September. Fashion sales were down 0.6% overall and 2% in store.

Footfall fell during the month compared with the same time last year, and there was a particular decline in shopping centres.

The drop was in part attributed to high-profile closures and retail insolvencies knocking optimism in the market. Brexit uncertainties were also blamed.

The report noted: “Political divisions have only become more entrenched as we get closer to Brexit crunch time, leaving little room to focus on more immediate policies that could help revitalize the UK economy. Businesses can be forgiven for feeling dizzied by the volatility that only intensified throughout the month.”

Government action on business rates was also highlighted as a necessary measure to help alleviate high street challenges: “Consumers are also waiting for clarity, and the result of this wait-and-see approach appears to be a reduction in discretionary spending. Supportive and responsive government policy, starting with the reform of the business rates regime, could help to alleviate some of this hardship, but it is clear that we first need a solution to the current impasse.”

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