August 10, 2012 - Kasia
Two sets of research highlight the parlous state of UK high streets this summer. The latest figures from the Retail Traffic Index (RTI), showed disappointing national footfall levels in July with a 5.2% year-on-year decline.
The RTI monitors the volume of shoppers in non-food stores across the UK and is compiled by Ipsos Retail Performance. Dr Tim Denison, head of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, said: "The summer sales helped to keep some momentum going after the Jubilee week in June, underlining the belief that consumers are prepared to go shopping when they have good occasion to do so."
But he added: "We are not yet seeing any sustained uplift in the underlying trend."
Meanwhile, BDO's July High Street Sales Tracker showed like-for-like sales at mid-tier retailers down 2.9% year-on-year — representing the sharpest fall in retail sales since October 2011.
According to the research, some sectors have been doing better than others. While fashion stores saw sales drop 2.6% year-on-year — partly due to the fact that seasonal lines were not in synch with the unseasonable weather — homewares saw a drop of 13% on the same period.
Don Williams, national head of retail and wholesale at BDO LLP said: "It is still a challenging climate for retailers, and the rain in early July did not help. But it is dangerous to just blame the weather. There are retailers, particularly in the discounting space, who are bucking this trend through flexible and responsive supply chains. The quicker you can get your products to market, the louder you will hear tills ring."
But online sales figures painted a very different picture, said Don Williams, with an uplift of 24.9% year-on-year. "Retailers are continuing to improve their online environment which is clearly reflected in the figures."