Lifestyle and fashion retailers recorded strong performances through the first full month of post-lockdown activity with sustained online sales helping to bolster overall growth, according to BDO’s latest High Street Sales Tracker (HSST).
BDO revealed that the lifestyle category saw total like-for-like sales reach their highest result on record, as they surged by +85.4% in May from a base of -30.0% for the equivalent month last year. The result marks the third straight month of positive total like-for-like sales for lifestyle.
Meanwhile in the fashion sector, total like-for-like sales nearly hit a record high in May, jumping +83.3% from a base of -22.6% for May last year. This also represents the third consecutive month of positive like-for-like fashion sales.
Despite the reopening of stores, BDO said strong online spending was sustained. Total non-store like-for-like sales rose steadily by +9.7% despite the substantial growth in online shopping (+129.5%) recorded during a lockdown month last year.
Non-store fashion led the rise, increasing by +18.8% in May against a strong lockdown base of +64.0% last year, marking the 14th consecutive month of growth. Non-store lifestyle, on the other hand, saw a slight decrease in May (-4.3%) but that was compared to an “astronomical” base of +189.8% for the same month last year demonstrating the continued strength of online channels for many retailers.
Total like-for-like (LFL) sales, combined in-store and online, virtually trebled in May, from a poor lockdown base of -18.3% for the equivalent month last year. However, this figure is flattered by the contribution of total homeware LFLs, which rocketed up by quadruple digits in May.
Sophie Michael, head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO LLP, said: “The figures for May continue the encouraging results we saw in April and suggest that the building blocks for a sustained recovery are steadily falling into place.
“There is clear progress being made following the reopening of stores, with consumer confidence and retail sales approaching pre-pandemic levels. This is good news for retailers operating in discretionary spend sectors such as fashion and lifestyle, which were particularly impacted as a result of the lockdowns.”
She added: ““The continued strength of online sales suggests that some consumer behaviours adopted during lockdown have stuck, illustrating the ongoing importance for a blended multichannel approach from retailers. Product relevance and customer engagement through all channels will be key to trading success.
“With rising temperatures and the prospect of the further easing of restrictions improving the public mood, retailers will be hoping for a great summer boom.”