The first quarterly sales monitor of the year from the British Independent Retailers Association (formerly BHF-BSSA Group) reveals a balance of good and bad results.
Overall, 44% of those surveyed reported a higher performance than in the same quarter last year, and 56% a lower performance.
Cookshops and general housewares retailers recorded a 1.3% dip in business, although other sectors fared worse: glass, china and gift businesses, for instance, were 8.5% down.
Those performing best were furniture and floorcoverings, making a 2.4% return to growth, DIY and hardware stores, up 2.0%, and department stores, showing a modest 0.5% improvement.
Regionally, only stores in Scotland, the south west and East Anglia enjoyed better performances than in the same period last year.
Asked about confidence for the year ahead, just 6% said they were very confident, but 42% were reasonably confident. Over half – 52% – admitted to being anxious.