Sales on the high Street fell for the fourth year in a row in December, as shoppers moved more Christmas shopping online.
Sales were 0.1% lower than in the year before, according to BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker, with consumers spending more on household goods and less on fashion.
Online coffee machine sales were 19% higher than a year earlier though which continues the online shopping trend.
And the cash tills in High Street shops rang constantly in the week up to Christmas Day – sales rose 12% compared with the same time last year.
BDO said shops benefited from Christmas day being on a Sunday this year.
Online orders saw a greater rise for the week to 25 December, up 62% and with the start of the boxing day sales starting even before 26 December, online orders continue to rise each year.
Online sales contribute about 15% of all home spending at present.
During the early weeks of December fewer shoppers visited traditional High Street shops, retail parks and shopping centres.
But they flocked back in the last week leading up to Christmas, spending lots of money on items for the home as well as “lifestyle” items such as bicycles and of course wrapping paper and Christmas cards which are always big sellers this time of year.
Black Friday has a big impact on the sales year and some of December’s spending is likely to have been brought forward to November. BDO reported higher in-store sales for October and November as they have over previous years but it is expected that the January sales will continue the online sales trend.
For its High Street Sales Tracker, BDO views weekly figures from 70 participating High Street shops with about 12,000 stores, and compares the % change in turnover with the previous year (2015).
The small decline in High Street sales this December was particularly poor, BDO said, given that it was being compared with December 2015 which saw High Street sales falling 6% as compared with the year 2014.
“With such a weak base for December 2015, any further decline can only be seen as a poor result for retailers. Coming at a critical juncture, this fourth negative December in succession highlights the magnitude of the challenge that lies ahead for 2017, when consumers will more keenly feel the bite of inflation and the weaker pound.” said Sophie Michael who is the Head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO.