Clothing and footwear independents saw sales fall 0.5% in the second quarter to June 30, but the British Shops and Stores Association (BSSA) said there were some signs business was “stabilising”.
Despite news at the weekend that the economy contracted by 0.8% in the second quarter - almost three times the level expected - the BSSA said business confidence among independent retailers had improved slightly, with 55% saying they were confident about business over the next 12 months against 52% in the previous quarter.
The 0.5% sales drop compared with an overall independent retail sector decline of 2.2% in the second quarter. This has levelled at 2.1% across the first half.
However, BSSA chief executive John Dean warned that the weather through August, which is forecast to be changeable, would put indies under increased pressure through quarter three.
Dean said: “While sales of big-ticket items are struggling, fashion sales are holding. Yet the weather forecast is dispiriting because over the next couple of months it looks shaky, plus the multiples are discounting.”
One independent footwear retailer based in Oxfordshire said: “We’ve held level all the way this quarter and that hasn’t been easy. Although we’re pleased, it has been down to hard work, product and our personal approach.”
About 200 independent retailers took part in the BSSA’s second quarter survey.