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    Association survey shows gloomy mood among retailers

    (Photo: iStock)

    The British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) today (29) revealed insights into how traders are feeling about the future of retail, following a slump in Christmas and January sales.

    Bira, who work with over 6,000 independent businesses of all sizes across the UK, conducted a Retail Sentiment Survey which was sent to members, and its results have been worrying. The survey delved into how Christmas trade and January business performance was for 2023-2024 compared to the previous timeframe last year and also scoped for the confidence levels of retailers for the upcoming year.

    According to the survey, 57 per cent of respondents reported that last Christmas was worse than Christmas in 2022 while 59 per cent of those surveyed indicated that January 2024 has been worse than January 2023.

    Only 25 per cent of respondents expressed confidence in the future, while a substantial 53 per cent indicated a lack of confidence.

    Shop owners pointed to various factors contributing to their apprehension, including the “cost of living crisis” leading people to be more reserved in their spending.

    Andrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira said, “These findings reveal concerning trends for independent retailers, reflecting the challenges they’ve navigated during the festive season and into the new year. At Bira, we are actively engaged in lobbying the government, using this valuable data to underscore the urgent need for measures that boost consumer confidence on our high streets. Our focus is on reinvigorating local spending and creating a vibrant retail landscape. As we eagerly anticipate the Spring Budget, which is just a few days away, we hope it brings forth initiatives that strengthen the backbone of our communities—the independent businesses that make our high streets unique.”

    Shop owners cited various challenges, with one mentioning that “Black Friday Deals significantly affected Christmas sales.” Another noted that it was the “Worst Christmas in 15 years based on historical data,” revealing the struggles faced by independent retailers during the festive season.

    Retailers expressed concerns about the lackluster performance, with one owner sharing that on the Monday before Christmas, they only generated £30 in sales. Others described the month as “very flat, no atmosphere, and poor footfall.”

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