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Indies' anxiety over 'dead' bank holidays

Independents across the UK are worried that a trio of bank holidays falling within five weeks of one another will hit them hard, as many suffer from reduced footfall and sales over the holiday weekends.

This year Britons enjoyed a hot four-day Easter weekend, during which total footfall across all retail locations in the UK was down 5.2% year on year for the week to 27 April, data firm Springboard reported.

Meanwhile, the cold rainy weather also had a detrimental impact on trade on May Day bank holiday weekend, when footfall fell 5.1% between Saturday and Monday compared with the same weekend in 2018.

With spring bank holiday just around the corner, several independents have told Drapers they are gearing up for another “dead” weekend in store.

“Footfall generally drops off significantly on bank holidays, so having them so close is not great,” said Clare Serjeant, owner of clothing and lifestyle independent Fox & Feather in Bristol. “Families definitely tend to go away on these weekends and so sales suffer. I predict the next bank holiday weekend will follow the same pattern, with a slower weekend and stronger week days running up to the actual holiday weekend.”

Martin Brighty, owner of menswear independent tailor Peckham Rye in London’s Carnaby, agreed: “This year was an outlier in terms of Easter and May Day bank holiday being so close. Hopefully next year the bank holiday weekends will be phased better.”

Souraya Karami Gyves, founder and designer of footwear brand Esska, which opened its first store in Chiswick, west London, last month, said: “Our shop is in a residential area, so bank holiday weekends are dead. Families go away or have days out. I definitely feel that the footfall is lower on the Saturdays of bank holidays.”

Tracy Kinnaird, director of womenswear independent Pink Poodle in Glasgow, said: “The early May bank holiday came fast on the heels of half-term and Easter. Over the course of the weekend we noticed footfall was down, and cold weather didn’t help either, as summer fashion sales rely on good weather.”

Liz Hanley, owner of Magpie’s Nest in Stalybridge, Cheshire, told Drapers that she was disappointed that the bank holidays have fallen so close together: “They affect our trade negatively, as we are based in a commuter town and not a tourist destination.”

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