Retailers suffering longest dip in sales since Covid pandemic

05/04/2024

RETAIL sales have been falling for six months, having dropped again in March, the longest streak outside of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a survey.

Total in-store and online sales fell by 2.2% last month, the sixth month in a row that retail sales had fallen, the survey by BDO, a consultancy, said.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

Why? Free to subscribe, no paywall, daily business news digest.

The figures come as Carpetright – which has two major outlets in Aberdeen – has revealed it is exploring cost-saving options which could lead to shop closures.

March’s decline in retail sales suggests that wet and windy weather deterred consumers from the high street over the early Easter weekend.

Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, told the Times: “These results continue to paint a bleak picture for retailers. Despite both the Easter bank holiday weekend and Mother’s Day falling in March this year, these results serve as a stark reminder of the pressure the sector is under.”

BDO’s figures suggest that official retail sales estimates from the Office for National Statistics will show a contraction in March after they flatlined in the previous month. There has recently been a series of insolvencies on the high street, including The Body Shop and Ted Baker.

CarpetRight cuts

Meanwhile, Carpetright has drafted in advisers to explore cost-saving measures for the business as it struggles amid a slowdown in demand and increased competition.

The flooring retailer is understood to have appointed Teneo, the restructuring specialist, to look at various options in a move that could lead to shop closures.

Carpetright, which trades from more than 400 shops, is one of the UK’s largest floor covering retailers but it has been troubled recently as consumers reduce their spending.

It has also suffered intense competition from rivals such as Tapi, which was started by Martin Harris, the son of the Carpetright founder Lord Harris of Peckham, and opened dozens of shops on its doorstep.

The company reported revenues of £372.6million in the 14 months to January 1, 2022, compared with £493.2million in the prior 18 months to October 31, 2020.

Underlying losses before tax for the period were £23.4million, narrowed from a loss of £53million, according to latest accounts filed on Companies House.

The latest stories