Fashion, lifestyle, and homeware sales hit record high

Fashion, lifestyle, and homeware all achieved record sales following the reopening of retail stores.

Lifestyle like-for-like sales increased by 64.3 per cent in April, but from a decline of 40.1 per cent during the same period in the previous year, according to BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker.

The figures reveal the second straight month of positive sales for total lifestyle and the first time since October 2020 that every week recorded positive results.

Fashion sales surged by 84.2 per cent last month, from a decline of 31.4 per cent in April 2020. The sector remained strong throughout the month with April marking the second consecutive month of positive like-for-like sales.

Homeware sales also rose in April, though compared to a low comparative result for April 2020 when the closure of in-store channels constricted sales.

Although all three sectors recorded historic highs, this is caveated by the significant drop in sales revenues last year.

BDO said that while the results may appear “staggering” it’s important to note the weak base used for the comparison and that for some retailers, closing stores in April meant negligible sales.

The research also found that non-store sales grew by 28.2 per cent in April from a base of 109.6 per cent in 2020. This is a significant result, given last year’s record increase in online spending during the first UK lockdown.

Total like-for-like (LFL) sales, both in-store and non-store, increased sixfold in April, though from a weak base of -29.6 per cent for the equivalent month last year.

“April’s results reflect a timely shift in the consumer mindset, with pent-up demand and renewed confidence providing a euphoric reopening for the high street,” said Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO. “We don’t know, however, if this euphoria will last and if sustained confidence around personal finances will continue to prop up spending or fade as restrictions ease and ‘normality’ resumes.

Michael added: “The figures also illustrate a clear shift in consumer behaviour with online sales holding up strongly even as shops reopened. Some retailers may well have experienced significantly higher online figures than in store, despite opening their physical stores. This demonstrates the importance of continuing to focus across all channels and ensuring that they are viewed as one when engaging with the customer.”

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