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Spring cold snap has chilling effect on UK High Streets

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By John Glenday, Reporter

April 8, 2013 | 2 min read

A blast of unseasonal Arctic air has hit Britain’s ailing High Street’s according to new figures, which indicate that like-for-like retail sales in March were 0.9% down on a year ago.

According to accountancy firm BDO’s high street sales tracker the decline was precipitated by a fall-off in clothing sales as shoppers shunned spring and summer ranges in light of the low temperatures.

Big department stores haven’t been immune from the chill either with Debenhams forced to issue a profits warning following January snow and Marks & Spencer expected to report a 6% decline in like-for-like clothing sales over the last three months.

Don Williams, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said: “Retailers that failed to adjust stock levels and the supply chain accordingly were already on the back foot when the mercury dropped and will now have to work extra hard to catch better prepared rivals.

“People remain cash-strapped so their natural instinct is not to spend unless given a good reason. A product consumers like, with a strong focus on value, price and service is no longer enough, they also need an occasion like Mother’s Day, Easter or the school holidays to give them that final nudge.”

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