Essential reading for retailers and suppliers in the home improvement market

June sales cap off “crippling” first half

Published: 6 July 2018 - Fiona Garcia
2018 is on course to be worst year on record for UK high street
2018 is on course to be worst year on record for UK high street

Further sales declines mean 2018 is on course to be worst year on record for UK high street, with the British government urged to step up and help retailers.

This year may be remembered for the Royal wedding, a summer of sunshine and the World Cup, but it is also set to be a year to forget for the UK high street, says accountancy and business advisory firm BDO.

Figures released today reveal UK high street sales declined 1.7% year-on-year in June, marking the first time in at least 12 years that in-store growth has failed to exceed 1% in a single month for the first half of a calendar year. BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker (HSST) figures also mark the fifth successive month of negative in-store growth.

The final month in what BDO describes as “a crippling first half of the year”, saw negative like-for-like growth in a number of categories, with homewares down -2.4% and lifestyle goods down -0.3%. Fashion also declines -2.3% during the month. Non-store sales reported a growth of 10.4%, however, this is lowest year-on-year increase since December 2015, as retailers struggled to cope with further declines in consumer confidence.

Torrential rain and localised flooding across parts of the UK made a dent in footfall and sales, with overall year-on-year in-store sales plunging by -6.5% in the first week of June. 

Week two (+2.65%) and week three (+1.7%) saw sales grow, albeit from a poor base the year before, thanks to a combination of Father’s Day and a ‘World Cup bump’.

But the final week ended with a 5.4% year-on-year decline, as the scorching weather made it too hot to shop for many. The overall year-on-year growth figure for the month fell into the red at -1.7%. 

BDO LLP head of retail and wholesale Sophie Michael said: “The bleak and crippling start to the year shows no sign of abating, with deep discounting set to eat into margins that are already being stretched paper-thin by poor sales and rising costs, including the much-discussed issue of unfair business rates on high street retailers.

“These numbers confirm what many retailers have already suspected – this has been the worst first half of a calendar year for more than a decade.”

Two years on from the EU referendum and the consumer purse is still under significant strain amid sluggish wage growth and waning consumer confidence. 

She added: “Spending on food and drink or leisure and entertainment is still being prioritised over fashion or big ticket items for the home. People have simply reined in their spending, online and in store, and extreme weather of snow in March and heatwaves in June has only exacerbated this trend.   

“It will take a monumental change in fortunes on the high street to turn 2018 into anything other than an annus horribilis.”

The findings from BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker come just days after the independent review of the UK high street by former Wickes and Iceland CEO, Bill Grimsey

The Grimsey Review 2 estimates that 28,000 retail jobs have disappeared in 2018 and a further 40,000 are predicted to go by the end of the year.

Sophie Michael said of this report: “The findings are worrying. This is a huge red flag for businesses and government alike. The retail sector plays a hugely significant part in our economy; in employment, in taxes and in its societal impact on local communities. It is more important than ever that the Government not only steps up but stands up for the future of the great British high street.”


(Your email address will not be published)
Already Registered?
Sign In
Not Yet Registered?
Printable View E-mail Bookmark

What do you think?

Is housewares a growing category for your business?

Latest reader comments

re: Acana tackles carpet moths with carpet & fabric moth killer and freshener

Stephanie Ferrante
Hello, could someone from customer service call me - I am located in the US and we have a moth/ carpet issue. I am going to purchase this ...

re: Tommy Walsh: 'I'm really proud of my £1 tools'

Gregory ciacci
paint brushes good but paint roller sponge keeps fallinf off as i am painting doesnt help if i am doing big front room wall like i have ...

re: B&Q overhauls kitchen and bathroom sales process

No BQ employees affected - how come???when they're unemployed and losing a wage.....derrrrr...

re: Kingfisher opens first net zero energy store

Guy Eames
well done kingfisher! I’m going to make this store my main diy supply base. Perfect example of where sustainability is a win-win. ...

re: The Range to take over Homebase store in Cardiff

susan way
please can you tell me when the new range will be open on culverhouse cross is please thank you...

Most read stories

Blog and Comment

Dawn of a new age in customer service

Customer service used to be about answering telephones and responding to written requests, but our fast paced, social media driven society ... Read More >>