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Retailers record 12th month of consecutive sales growth

Fashion saw the biggest growth with total like-for-like sales increasing by 68.1% in February

The retail sector has recorded its 12th consecutive month of positive trading with total like-for-like sales, combined in-store and online, increasing year-on-year by 49.6% in February from a base of -3.1% when the country was in full lockdown.

According to BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker (HSST), total like-for-like sales saw “substantial” increases across all categories compared to February 2021. This follows growth of 44.04% in the first week of the month, and the following weeks saw like-for-like sales growth of 62.34% and 61.43%. 

However, total non-store like-for-like sales fell by 19.4%, which is reportedly the biggest fall ever recorded by BDO, and it marks two consecutive months of decline for non-store like-for-like sales. 

BDO said the decline is relative to elevated non-store like-for-like sales of +167.3% recorded during lockdown in February last year. 

Meanwhile, in the final week of February, total like-for-like sales rose by 59.20%, from a -7.11% base for the same week in 2021.

BDO revealed that fashion saw the biggest growth, with total like-for-like sales increasing by 68.1% for the month, from a base of -3.6% for the same time last year. This month marked 12 consecutive months of growth, despite non-store like-for-like sales falling in each week of February. 

Total like-for-like sales in the lifestyle sector also increased by 59.9% in January, from a base of -15.6% for the equivalent month last year. However, the sector saw a significant fall in non-store like-for-like sales, decreasing by more than a third in each week of the month.

In addition, homeware total like-for-like sales rose by 5.4% in February, from a base of +32.2% in the same month last year. The category extended its run of positive life-for-like sales to 22 straight months, despite non-store sales falling by more than 20% each week. 

Sophie Michael, head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO, said: “As we expected, February has seen strong like-for-like sales for retailers. The cost-of-living crisis, although building momentum, is yet to fully impact consumers. Increases in energy prices and National Insurance won’t take effect until April.

“This may be the point at which the strong discretionary spending we’ve seen over recent months starts to subside. Retailers will also have to navigate the challenge of higher costs, and deciding whether they can absorb these or pass them on to consumers, at a time when the consumer purse is being squeezed.”

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