Sales & Marketing

dramatic reversal of fortunes? for small UK shops in final months of 2015

Hannah Wilkinson | 1 February 2016 | 8 years ago

2015 for small UK shops
The fall in sales volumes comes despite increased consumer enthusiasm for small shops
British independent retailers saw an 18 month period of increasing revenue come to an end in the final quarter of 2015, according to new figures released by the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira).

The statistics show that almost 60 per cent of small UK shops took less money in the last three months of the year than over the same period 12 months later with independent retailers in the flood-stricken North West seeing the biggest decline, although shops in the North East did better in the run up to Christmas 2015 than in the year before.

Performance also varied by industry, with the owners of small shops selling books, music, toys and furniture reporting modest increases on average, while the vast majority of independent gardening retailers reported year-on-year declines.

A statement from the deputy CEO of Bira, Michael Weedon, said: Retail owners are by nature optimistic, it’s in the blood, and this will stand them in good stead after a warm and soggy fourth quarter: facing increased business rates, the loss of the 1, 500 rates discount and the advent of the National Living Wage, all in April, they will be counting on improved trade to pump up results to overcome the added load that the government seems intent on adding to weigh down on high street buoyancy.

The fall in sales volumes comes despite increased consumer enthusiasm for small shops. Additional research published in January by The Leadership Factor revealed that some 20 per cent of people shop more with independent retailers than they did 12 months ago.

Bira pointed to heavier discounting after Black Friday, as well as an increase in the numbers of shoppers making Christmas purchases through apps and websites, to explain the figures.

Small retailers in London faced the added challenge of significant rent increases with high street rental prices increasing by 18 per cent over the course of 2015, according to the most recent CBRE Prime Rents and Yields Monitor. The report also revealed that high street footfall declined by 3.9 per cent across the UK at the end of the year.

For inspiration from a retail success story, have a read of our interview with Saltrock co-founder Angus Thomson.

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