According to a survey conducted by accountants BDO, retail sales for July had dropped by 2.9 per cent in comparison to 2011. The slump in retail sales was mainly due to the poor weather and increased financial worries. However, the spell of hot weather towards the end of July brought some relief as sales improved, although overall the figures show a drop in sales. The fashion retailers experienced a 2.6 per cent reduction year on year, while a drop of 1.5 per cent was experienced in non-fashion outlets.
Homeware had the worst sales this year as the wet weather put customers off purchasing outdoor furniture and garden supplies. It would also seem that customers were intent on purchasing essential items only, which meant that household goods like garden furniture were cut back. The National Head of retail and Wholesale at BDO Don Williams believes that it is wrong to blame the poor sales only on the bad weather. According to Williams, some retailers are displaying flexibility and are achieving high sales levels. Although customers are cautious with spending, being able to provide the goods to match the demand from consumers is the key.
Although the stores experienced difficulties, online sales rose by 24.9 per cent, which demonstrates the need for retailers to concentrate on their online stores. The wet weather and traffic congestion due to the Olympics and other events contribute to shoppers avoiding the high street. More people are using online services each year, including shopping and online accounting.