High street retailers have suffered their worst February in a decade despite the warm weather and Valentine’s Day, figure show.
In-store sales were down 3.7% on February last year, according to BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker.
Valentine’s Day, the half-term holiday and unseasonably warm temperatures failed to improve the fortunes of bricks-and-mortar retailers, resulting in the worst February figures for store sales since 2009.
Lifestyle retailers suffered their worst February on record – a drop of 4.9% on last year – with Valentine’s Day failing to provide any of the expected uplift to the category.
In-store fashion sales also fell by 3.5%, marking the category’s worst February since 2009.
Even homeware sales, which saw marginal growth of 0.4%, were from a negative base of minus 4.2% last February.
BDO said the third week of the month gained no benefit from Valentine’s Day, while the final week of the month, which was the half-term holiday in many areas, saw sales down by 0.7%.
Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO LLP, said: “Consumer confidence is teetering on the precipice and shoppers are resisting unnecessary spending.
“Lifestyle, a category that would normally see a lift thanks to Valentine’s Day, suffered the worst monthly result since 2008. It’s clear that shoppers are exercising extreme caution.
“It has been a tough start to the year for the sector and retailers are continuing to fill headlines with poor performances.
“Brexit uncertainty is proving to have a disproportionate impact on discretionary spending and there’s an increasing sense of nervousness among retailers.”
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