High street sales grow at fastest rate in 14 months

Sales grew at their fastest pace in more than a year last month as shoppers “burst onto the high street” following January’s heavy snowfall, according to figures published today.

BDO said UK like-for-like sales grew by 3.9 per cent during the “notoriously difficult” month of February, boosted by strong sales of gifts in the run-up to Valentine’s Day.

The accounting firm said the growth, led by a 6.6 per cent jump in non-fashion takings as retailers extended their post-Christmas sales, was the strongest since December 2011.

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Don Williams, BDO’s national head of retail and wholesale, said: “After being stuck indoors during the late January snowfall, shoppers burst onto the high street last month.

“Their pent-up desire to spend was released on beginning-of-year promotions that many retailers extended into the second month of 2013.”

Williams said the strong growth recorded in the firm’s monthly high street sales tracker was “particularly impressive” as it followed a flat start to the year, which saw January’s like-for-like sales dip 0.4 per cent.

He added: “The high street tends to dread February, but these results will be a fillip for retailers. The fact this year’s major snowfall was earlier flatter the figures slightly, but there is no doubt they reflect increasing consumer confidence.”