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High Street suffering ‘worst year on record’ – figures

Sales of homewares fell 4.4% in September to make the eighth consecutive month without growth (PA) Photo: PA Archive/PA Images

The UK high street is suffering its worst year on record as in-store sales decline for the eighth month in a row, figures show.

Sales were down 2.7% year-on-year in September, marking the eighth consecutive negative month for in-store buying and the 12th month since growth exceeded 1% for retailers, according to advisory firm BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker (HSST).

The figures were tempered slightly by non-store sales growth of 11.6% year-on-year, but even this was the third-lowest monthly increase this year and the worst non-store September performance for at least eight years.

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Sales of homewares fell 4.4% in September to make the eighth consecutive month without growth, while lifestyle and fashion sales were down 2.1% and 2.8% respectively.

Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said: “2018 has been an incredibly challenging year for retailers and there are no signs of this abating. The ongoing decline in homeware sales and big ticket items reflects the nervousness of the UK consumer, especially as uncertainty around Brexit lingers.

“Footfall on the high street has been dropping at an increasing pace, which will be of serious concern as retailers enter the crucial Christmas season. Somehow that decline in footfall needs to be reversed.”

Ms Michael added: “With Brexit looming, the Chancellor will want to keep his powder dry and build up his war chest to cover the associated costs of our exit. But retail is a hugely important part of the UK economy and that cannot be ignored. Mr Hammond needs to step up and take action to support our flailing high street.”