Bargains hard to find
retail: Big discounts in the Christmas shopping rush were harder to find this year as high street chains fought to protect their margins, a report has said.
Combined with the ongoing caution of UK consumers, business advisory firm BDO's December sales tracker points to "steady but unspectacular" trading.
The report, which studies like-for-like spending at non- grocery retailers with annual sales of between £5m and £500m, showed sales growth of 1.9 per cent on a year earlier, despite a drop of 3.7 per cent in the week to December 16.
BDO said tighter stock planning and better strategies for discounting meant firms were able to achieve an improvement in margins on a year earlier.
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The report said: "Although experiencing relatively modest year-on-year sales rises, many retailers will still count December as a success."
Non-fashion was the strongest sector, with growth of 7.1 per cent thanks to increased sales of Christmas "gifting" items from well-established brands and stores. Fashion sales were flat year-on-year due to poor weather and strong figures for the same period a year earlier.