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Homewares provides high street lift

20poundnotesHomewares provided a boost to high street retailers in December, but consumers opted to shop online.

Homewares was the only sector to delivery an increase in sales for high street in December, but it was online shopping that provided the strongest growth. Homewares rose by 8% in December according to the BDO High Street Sales Tracker, as overall spending dropped by 2.2%.

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'Last minute present shopping saw non-fashion sales pick up in the final week, offsetting a weak start to the month. Fashion sales were down 4.6% overall with poor weather and savvy bargain hunters hitting the sector particularly hard. Although pre-Christmas discounting saw sales pick up slightly at the very end of the month this was too little too late,' says Don Williams, BDO national head of retail and wholesale.

'Non-store sales were the real stars of Christmas however, with overall sales up 31.1% on 2012. The week before Christmas saw non store sales increase 55.7% - an impressive figure against a strong like-for-like. As anticipated, online sales and click and collect were the real success stories this Christmas and these figures illustrate just how critical it is for retailers to invest in online routes to market. Many retailers will feel disappointed with reduced footfall in stores but when the technology is right this shows that this need not be a disaster.

'The big rise in the last week of December when we started to see discounting shows that consumers are prepared to hold out until the last minute to pick up a bargain. This suggests that the January sales will encourage shoppers to part with their hard earned cash but there is little room for complacency. January is a cruel month for the high street as retailers are usually sitting on high cash holdings and low stock levels so they are particularly exposed at this time of year.'

The BDO High Street Sales Tracker outlines weekly like-for-like sales changes of about 85 mid-tier retailers with 10,000 stores.