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Indies upbeat on sales but wary of expansion

Independent retailers are growing in confidence as sales pick up and they negotiate better deals with suppliers, yet expansion and recruitment plans are still being put on hold, according to new figures from the Forum of Private Business (FPB).

The FPB’s Preparing for Growth survey showed 25% of indies, including non-fashion retailers, were optimistic ahead of Christmas trading and expected to see an increase in sales within the next three months, with that figure rising to 94% of indies expecting an improvement within the next year.

Rita Smith, manager of kidswear indie Monkey Business in Pinner,  Middlesex, said: “Sales are definitely picking up.”

While 44% of indies were looking to expand within the next year, only 5% had immediate plans to do so, with many citing banks’ reluctance to lend money as a reason to delay. Lending terms have got worse during this year, said 75% of indies.

FPB policy representative Matt Goodman said: “Our members are telling us the banks are driving up prices when it comes to lending to small businesses.”

Smith added that Monkey Business had intended to open a second shop last year but had now put its plans “on the back burner” until the market picked up further.

In the short term, a substantial number of indies were also looking to cut staffing costs, with 32% telling the FPB they had plans to do so within the next three months.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Richard Harris

    Working in the shopfitting industry I can confirm this report is very true. Our enquiries have increased in the last few months, but budgets are still not quite there to move expansion plans into a reality. One this is certain. With some great opportunities on the commercial property market it’s never been a better time to expand if you’re looking to increase your high street presence.

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