U.K. Stores Post Steepest Sales Decline Since Financial Crisis

  • BDO confirms recent evidence of tough trading for retailers
  • Shift toward online shopping taking business from high street

U.K. stores had their steepest sales decline since 2008 last month as British consumers shunned the country’s shopping streets.

Like-for-like sales fell 6.1 percent compared with April last year, business advisory firm BDO LLP said in its monthly report. Fashion retailers were hardest hit, with sales dropping 9.2 percent as stores ended seasonal discounting toward the end of the month.

The figures confirm recent evidence of difficult trading for U.K. retailers. Clothing merchant Next Plc cut its sales forecast for a second time this week, shortly after the collapses of department-store chain BHS Group Ltd. and formalwear retailer Austin Reed. Cool spring weather, muted wage gains and uncertainty surrounding the upcoming European Union referendum have caused consumers to defer purchases.

“Retailers are concerned that consumers aren’t inclined to spend at the moment because of the overall economy,” Charles Allen, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said by phone.

The longer term shift towards online shopping also continues to take business away from high streets. Web sales rose 16.4 percent in April, BDO said.

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