Despite the relentless shadow of gloom that has been hanging over retailers and businesses for the past year, the British Independent Retailers Association reported a strong, even unexpected, finish to 2011 for independents, with the exception of fashion retailers who saw falls in each quarter.
The research figures saw the highest proportion of BIRA members reporting a year-on-year increase for the quarter since the survey first began at the end of 2007 and the first quarter in the past seven in which more independents enjoyed higher sales than suffered a decrease. The average rise for these predominantly retailers may only have been 1.57% but this follows more than a year of overall falls.
Clothing and footwear completed a full suit of quarterly declines, which may, if other surveys are of any help in explaining this, be down to the effects of widespread discounting.
The retailer confidence index swung back towards a small margin of growth for the first time since June 2010, despite the fact that half have reported a reduction in the size of their overdraft facility by the banks in the past year and over half have suffered input price inflation for the goods they sell of over 5% during the past quarter, while 25% report that it has been over 10%.
Whilst the end of the gloom is not yet over, neverthess independents remain optimistic for 2012.
Image: Browns London