More small shops are floating than sinking, although turnover fell overall year-on-year in the third quarter, according to new data from bira (the British Independent Retailers Association).
The broad trend is towards a subdued improvement in trade, held back by price deflation in the non-food half of UK retail.
Bira commented: “Independent department stores were all above the waterline during the quarter, while housewares and DIY were more neutrally buoyant.”
The Association noted that in the early part of the year the talk was all about downpours, with half of respondents commenting on the effects of the weather. This time round, business rates weighed most heavily on the minds of retailers. But overall, over 50% of respondents described themselves as ‘reasonably optimistic’ about the year ahead.
But, bira noted: “If there is a real retail recovery, then many more independents will have to catch the wave in the critically important fourth quarter than have done to date.”
To help them in that, bira has joined a coalition of champions of the High Street in supporting myhigh.st (see separate story: ‘bira joins forces with eommerce network’) in a campaign to help the independent retailers of 200 towns ‘open up’ shop online. That campaign is called target200 and has its own dedicated website at www.target200.com.