The overall picture from Bira’s Quarterly Sales Monitor for the first quarter of this year is one of encouragement, with many of the figures showing an improvement when compared with the previous quarter and the first quarter of 2018.
Overall, just over half (51.75%) of respondents reported a better performance.
But, despite the encouraging figures and signs of improvement, several issues are still causing concern for retailers, according to Bira. Brexit has once again been highlighted by respondents as a concern, with 60.31% of retailers facing modest margin pressures, due to a weaker Pound as a direct result.
Other factors such as rising wages, pension increases and rates were also highlighted by respondents as concerns and this is reflected in the survey, with 54.45% of retailers feeling anxious about the year ahead.
Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO said: “The latest figures from the first QSM of 2019 reflect an encouraging start to the year for independent businesses after what was a disappointing end to 2018. To see that just over half of the respondents have reported a higher performance average as well as a drop in significant margin pressure when compared to the last quarter, is a much-needed and welcome start to the year.
“Despite the positive figures, there are still challenges facing retailers that require action from the Government, with the delay to Brexit being one of the biggest – we need clarity on the outcome before October.
“The smaller independent retail businesses have been helped with a 30% reduction in business rates and we now need the Government to start spending the £675m high street fund to help bring confidence back to our high streets.
‘As always, Bira will continue to fight the corner for independent businesses across the UK and I encourage all members to complete our surveys, to help us do this.”
The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) works with more than 6,000 independent businesses of all sizes and is the umbrella organization of the PPRA (Pet Product Retail Association).