Jun 4, 2021
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​Fashion hits near-record post-lockdown sales, online also strong - BDO

Jun 4, 2021

News to cheer UK fashion omnichannel retail. The sector saw a near-record performance in May — the first full post-lockdown month — with sustained online sales helping to bolster overall growth, BDO’s latest High Street Sales Tracker (HSST) showed.

Photo: Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio

Fashion’s total like-for-like sales jumped 83.3% from a base of -22.6% for May last year. This also represents the third consecutive month of positive like-for-like fashion sales.

Meanwhile, the lifestyle category did even better with total like-for-like sales reaching their highest result on record, surging 85.4% in May from a base of -30% for the equivalent month last year. The result also marks the third straight month of positive total like-for-like sales for lifestyle.

Further positivity came in the online sector, and particularly fashion. Despite the reopening of stores, total non-store like-for-like sales rose a steady 9.7% in May despite the substantial growth in online shopping (+129.5%) recorded during a lockdown month last year. Non-store fashion led the rise, increasing 18.8% last month against a strong lockdown base of +64% last year, marking the 14th consecutive month of growth. 

Non-store lifestyle, on the other hand, saw a slight dip in May (-4.3%) but that was compared to an astronomical base of +189.8% for the same month last year, “demonstrating the continued strength of [the] online channel for many retailers”, noted BDO.

Total like-for-like (LFL) sales, combined in-store and online, virtually trebled in May, from a poor lockdown base of -18.3% for the equivalent month last year. However, this figure was flattered by the contribution of total homeware LFLs, which rocketed by quadruple-digits in May.

Sophie Michael, head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO, said: “The figures for May continue the encouraging results we saw in April and suggest that the building blocks for a sustained recovery are steadily falling into place.

“There is clear progress being made following the reopening of stores, with consumer confidence and retail sales approaching pre-pandemic levels. This is good news for retailers operating in discretionary spend sectors such as fashion and lifestyle, which were particularly impacted as a result of the lockdowns. 

She added: “The continued strength of online sales suggests that some consumer behaviours adopted during lockdown have stuck, illustrating the ongoing importance for a blended multichannel approach from retailers. Product relevance and customer engagement through all channels will be key to trading success.

“With rising temperatures and the prospect of the further easing of restrictions improving the public mood, retailers will be hoping for a great summer boom”.

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