Gifts Today magazine

Growth for UK Independents

Independents grew by an average of 2.35% in the second quarter of 2015, with housewares seeing strong growth

Independents grew by an average of 2.35% in the second quarter of 2015, a result which would be regarded as a stellar success by the big supermarkets right now.

Only two product sectors suffered falls; fashion and gifts, and even these were only just the wrong side of zero, while home related sales saw strong growth for the big ticket items of furniture, floorcoverings and beds while housewares put in a second strong quarter, along with garden. DIY and Hardware has moderated to just over 1% but has it has extended its run of growth quarters to seven.

Retailer anxiety is now at its lowest level since the beginning of 2014 as seven out of ten respondents are either confident or very confident of the year ahead.

Which is good, because they will need to be and growth will need to run well ahead of inflation given the cost challenges that independents face. bira Deputy CEO Michael Weedon commented: "They have already had to deal with a business rate increase of 2% and unless the Chancellor repeats his discount of £1,500 next year, will see huge further increases. The National Minimum Wage (NMW) rises by an inflation busting 3% in October before the new National Living Wage (NLW) arrives in April adding a further 7.4% on top of the October increase. Then they will really have to build turnover year after year just to keep in touch with government driven rates as the target of £9 per hour by 2020 calls for four annual increases of 6% - and the NMW can be expected to follow that growth trend. That will be on top of the new requirement on all employers to pay an additional 3% in pension contributions as all of the small businesses meet their staging dates between now and 2017. In the light of those prospects growth of just over 2% looks like a very bare minimum and if the expected rise in interest rates occurs in early 2016 retailers could find life very difficult indeed as eight million variable rate mortgage payers have to divert cash from spending to keeping the roofs over their heads."

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