High street suffers Christmas flop as 2018 ends with record low

A festive flop capped the worst year on record for the high street, research out today shows.

Last-minute spending failed to stop Christmas being a washout for many shops, advice firm BDO said.

Though stores slashed prices in the final week, sales dropped by 1.9% year-on-year, the sixth December running where takings tumbled.

It was also the 11th month running where sales were down year-on-year, the worst run since the BDO survey started in 2006.

Fashion sales fell 2%, following a 3.8% drop in December 2017.

Homewares were the sole bright star, growing 9.3%.But while shops suffered, non-store sales – including online – jumped 11.9%.

This came after Next reported online takings up 15% in the Christmas run-up but store sales tumbling 9%.

Amid big names’ results next week, analysts predict Marks & Spencer will report a slump of 2.5% in clothing and 3% in homewares.

Struggling Debenhams could also reveal more rotten results.

The Mirror is calling for action to help shops through our High Street Fightback campaign.

BDO’s head of retail Sophie Michael said: “It’s clear consumer confidence is low.

“Shoppers have exercised extreme caution or shopped strategically online. The spree retailers were hoping for didn’t happen.”

Shopworkers’ union Usdaw called for a reform of business rates to help level the playing field for bricks-and-mortar retailers.

Its general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “This is not about favours, it’s about fairness.

“We need national and local government, unions and employers to form a joint retail task group to effectively tackle the current crisis.”

“The Government has so far failed to provide any clear strategy.”

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