The extreme cold weather which gripped the UK in March also brought a decline in sales on the high street, which, added to consumers’ already strained budgets, has made people weary of spending unless given a very good reason.
New figures from accountancy firm BDO reveal that last month, retail sales dipped 0.9% on a like-for-like basis compared to the previous year. The fall resulted from a steep decline in sales in the clothing segment as Britons avoided buying items from brands’ new spring and summer collections because of the freezing temperatures, which made March the second coldest month ever since records began over 100 years ago. Sales of clothes contracted 3.4% over the month, countering the strong 7.3% uptick in sales generated in the non-fashion segment, which was fuelled by higher purchases of homeware and kitchen appliances for Mother’s Day gifts, the Telegraph reported.
Britons are increasingly trying to spend more wisely and looking for ways to stretch their budgets. Value, price and service are no longer the main drivers behind consumers’ purchasing intentions, they also need an occasion like Mother’s Day, Easter or the school holidays to go out and shop, Don Williams, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, commented.
The impact of the unexpected cold weather has already been exhibited by local retailers. Department store chain Debenhams warned that snow in January would hurt its profits, while Marks & Spencer is expect to reveal this week a decline of up to 6% in like-for-like clothing sales for the first quarter.