More than half of small shops taking part in the latest quarterly sales monitor conducted by the British Independent Retailers Association (bira), saw their best average growth for the last quarter of 2013 since 2010 – while just under half found things tougher.
The overall quarterly outcome was the result of a positive but late Christmas buying season after a gloomy October and November. Furniture & floorcoverings, garden machinery & tool hire, and DIY & hardware all grew “quite strongly”.
Bira deputy ceo and communications director Michael Weedon said: “It’s probably no coincidence that that these product areas are all related closely to activity in the housing market.” However, he added: “Despite the fact that this was the Christmas quarter, giftware, greetings cards and housewares all suffered.”
But, he noted: “Independents are looking up. It does not take much to inspire confidence among these businessmen and women – retailers being natural optimists – and nearly two-thirds of respondents are confident or very confident about the year ahead, with levels of confidence the highest since 2009.”
The survey also revealed that just over a third of respondents are now trading online (taking orders and money) and that those doing so are deriving, on average, an eighth of their turnover from this channel.