18 Apr 2019
The UK’s retail sector experienced big year-on-year growth in March, but department stores remain on red alert
Phil Mullis, Partner and Head of Retail and Wholesale at leading accountancy firm, Wilkins Kennedy, said: “These figures reinforce just how much of an impact last year’s ‘Beast from the East’ had on the UK high street; with this March’s mild weather helping strong year-on-year growth in respect of the value spent (7.3%) and the quantity bought (6.7%).
"Food stores contributed a significant chunk of this growth thanks, in part, to Mother’s Day (and food inflation), but on the flip side, people still aren’t going for big ticket items, which is driving the downfall at some household goods and department stores.
"The ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the fluctuation of the pound are some of the main reasons consumers are so reluctant to splurge at the minute.
"Given the volatility of the pound in response to Brexit movements, retailers importing goods would be wise to hedge against exposure to foreign exchange to aid budgeting certainty.
"While these statistics of growth are encouraging news for the sector, it was disappointing, yet hardly surprising, to see Debenhams enter administration.
"And finally, it is important to remember that retail isn’t dying, it is evolving to reflect what consumers now want when they are visiting the high street, and part of this process involves businesses either shutting down or receiving wake up calls to change and tailor their offering in order to survive.”