Cold snap freezes high street sales


High street sales has been hit by Britain's cold snap

Britain’s cold snap has frozen high street sales growth as shoppers opt to stay at home rather than brave the snow.

The Christmas shopping rush, usually seen during the final days of November, failed to materialise this year as the heavy snow put people off travelling.

Non-fashion sales were the hardest hit, with gifts the worst performing category during November, while health and beauty purchases were also below par, according to the BDO High Street Sales Tracker.

The arrival of the cold weather led to the usual seasonal spike in purchases of winter clothes, with fashion sales rising by 2.8% during November, although the growth was down on the figure seen for the same month of 2009.

The weather also hit online sales, as people worried that their order risked getting lost during the snow chaos, or being caught up in a backlog of deliveries.

Non-store sales were still 27.6% ahead of November 2009’s level, but the growth was well down on the 39.2% seen a year ago, as last month failed to benefit from the traditional Christmas shopping boost that comes during the final days of November.

The only sector that exceeded expectations was the homeware sector, which saw year-on-year growth of 3.6%, as spending levels were boosted by people ordering big ticket items in a bid to beat January’s VAT rise.

But retailers are hoping sales will bounce back during early December as people rush to the shops once the snow has been cleared.

Don Williams, BDO head of retail, said: “The weather has put people off shopping, but it’s come so early consumers still have time to do their Christmas shopping.

“This weekend would normally be the big weekend for festive purchases, but most people will wait until the snow has cleared before returning to the high street.”

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