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Indie sales rise in January despite lacklustre Xmas

Independent retailers experienced strong trading at the start of the year, despite reports from the British Shops and Stores Association of a poor Christmas.

Independents contacted by Drapers said sales in January were up against last year.

Michelle Berkins, owner of womenswear indie Michelle B in Nelson, Lancashire, said sales rose 20% year on year. “We started our Sale 10 days earlier than last year, so we only have one Sale rail left in the shop,” she said.

At Duncans in Preston, co-owner Suzanne Tomlinson said: “January sales have been up against last year because instead of discounting heavily from the start, we reduced stock gradually, keeping customers interested.”

Meanwhile, sales at young fashion retailer Accent in Leeds increased by 10% in the four weeks to January 1. Director Karen Nolan said a 35%-off Sale boosted trade. “Traditionally we do a 25% reduction, but everybody wants more off these days, with some of the bigger stores going in at half price,” she said.

But Aidan Malone, director of classic menswear indie Geraghty in Galway in the Republic of Ireland, was less positive about the start of the year. “There are fewer people coming through the door than last year and there is huge uncertainty in the market,” he said.

The BSSA’s quarterly sales monitor showed that 47% of indies experienced a worse Christmas than in 2006. It said independents and medium-sized chains recorded a 1.5% rise in average sales performance in the run-up to Christmas 2007.

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