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Online sales soar as high street suffers a dip

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Online UK fashion sales grew fast this week while bricks and mortar stores showed a distinct weakening in consumer interest.

The latest BDO High Street Sales Tracker shows that in the week ending April 16, online sales grew by 63%. Fashion sales were “exceptionally buoyant,” said BDO.

But on the high street, like-for-like sales, which strip out the effect of store openings and closures, were down by 3.3%, with fashion sales down by 2.4%, the first fall since January, and non-fashion down by 9.6%. The only relief for high street retailers came in furniture and homeware sales, which posted growth of 4.9%.

The figures come after a strong rally over the Easter period and to some extent can be explained by the fact that the holiday fell earlier this year than last.

Don Williams, head of retail at BDO LLP, said: “Easter has a significant influence on a number of categories so it was no surprise to see results tumble when it fell earlier than usual this year. Non-fashion sales in particular slipped, with takings falling by near double-digit levels.

“The property market has also started to recover with more people putting their houses on the market. As a result of this we will start to see an uplift in the homeware results over the coming weeks as people tackle DIY projects, readying their houses for sale.”

The High Street Sales Tracker outlines weekly like-for-like sales changes at around 70 mid-tier retailers with 10,000 individual stores in fashion, non-fashion and homewares.

Our view: Key to these figures for us is the rise in online fashion sales. It seems consumers are ever readier to buy and try new clothes in the comfort of their own home, implying a certain confidence both in the retailer and in the returns process.
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