Cookshops were one of the few categories of retailer to have had a positive second quarter of the year.
New research from the British Independent Retailers Association – the results of its quarterly sales monitor – shows that almost six in 10 independent retailers suffered a decline in business over the period.
Fifty-eight per cent reported falls averaging 10%, while 42% reported increases, also averaging 10%.
The picture shows clothing, footwear, card and stationery, book and toy, DIY and pet product retailers experiencing declines, but cookshops and furniture and giftware retailers enjoying rises.
The year-on-year figures for the quarter show Scotland and the south west in positive territory, but the seven other regions dropping away.
One of the gloomiest comments from the respondents came from a cookshop in the north west.
“Job losses, job insecurity, higher food and fuel costs are all squeezing consumer pockets to (and beyond) their financial limits,” it said. “Compound this with a VAT rate of 20%, stagnant housing market and large cuts in public spending and it is unsurprising that retailers are going in to administration left, right and centre.
“Unless the government urgently address these issues I see nothing but a downward spiral with many more businesses failing in the near future.”
BIRA’s deputy CEO Michael Weedon added: “Another story that the government needs to hear is the answer to the question: ‘Has your line of credit reduced (including your overdraft) or rate charge increased in the past quarter?’ This quarter, 17% answered that it had. In the most recent four quarters fully half of respondents have reported the strengthening constriction of credit to small businesses. If the government wants growth then it must act on this issue.”