Business development · 14 January 2016

Independent retailers celebrate successful post-Christmas sales but face challenges in 2016

Independent retailers
Despite the positive message from recent data, many small shops remain cautious about the outlook for 2016

Small shops’ in-store sales between Christmas and the New Year were some 13 per cent higher in 2015, according to new figures released by electronic point of sale supplier Intelligent Retail.

The data also revealed that independent retailers saw high street revenues increase by more than one-third on New Year’s day 2016 – while online sales were up ten per cent on Christmas day itself.

The news follows Amazon’s announcement that UK-based Marketplace sellers sold over £1bn on the platform in the run-up to Christmas – and were exporting to more countries than ever before.

“We should be very proud of the British companies manufacturing and selling British products all over the world; they all play an important part in driving our economy forward,” said business secretary Sajid Javid.

Simon Johnson, the director of seller services at Amazon UK, added: “Christmas 2015 has been a landmark festive season for Marketplace sellers. At one time, most sellers focused purely on UK customers – now high numbers are showcasing their products to customers all over Europe and the world. The result is rapid growth for businesses of all sizes.”

Consumer data released earlier in January also pointed to a surge in the popularity of independent British shops – especially amongst younger shoppers.

Yet despite the positive message from recent data, many small shops remain cautious about the outlook for 2016 – with fears that the rise of the the minimum wage to £7.20 per hour could impact on profitability. Some 63 per cent of those small retail owners surveyed by the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) in July 2015 believed that the new measure will result in fewer jobs in the sector.

The end of business rate relief for small shops on struggling high streets will also impact on independent retailers this year. The measure – announced in the Autumn Statement in November – will see some 278,000 small shops’ costs increase by £1,500 per year.

Jerry Schurder, head of business rates at the surveyor Gerald Eve, told The Independent: “Retailers will be distraught that this relief has been removed, and it is the smallest and most-vulnerable shops on the most down-at-heel high streets that will be affected the most.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics – as well as running a tutoring company.

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