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Mixed bag for indies as festive footfall slumps

Independent retailers have reported mixed festive trading, with the only consensus being that footfall was down across all parts of the sector.

Mainstream womenswear stores reported flat sales year on year and classic menswear shops said sales were either down or flat. In young fashion, retailers that tailored their offer upmarket or away from commercial bestsellers seemed to fare better than those that competed with the high street, with some reporting double-digit sales increases.

Kashif Qazi, owner of Utter Nutter in Romford, Essex, told Drapers that although trading kicked in a week later than last year, he was 18% up against 2005. He said: "Pushing our offer towards more premium denim and looking for individual pieces seem to have really made the difference for us year on year."

Patrick Richie, owner of young men's fashion business Attitude in Aberdeen, said a move upmarket had also boosted his sales by 20%, despite losing out on New Year trade because of bad weather. He said: "Aberdeen is trading well and the menswear retailers here that have put some difference between them and the rest of the high street seem to have reaped the benefits."

Gemma Lane, manager of Fusion in Preston, Lancashire, said that although the business was 10% down, a shift to buying 50% short order put it in a comfortable stock position going into the Sale. But she added: "We have seen fewer people in the mall we are in than last year."

Bournemouth menswear independent Ashes also suffered from low footfall. Owner John Dennison said: "Numbers fell in the week before Christmas and haven't recovered. Trade was slow across all categories."

Womenswear retailers were still struggling to sell outerwear in the Sales as temperatures remained in double figures. Sally Bett, owner of Kent-based Adin Coates, said like-for-like sales in the run-up to Christmas were down and that she was not optimistic about her Sale.

In York, Sarah Coggles head of retail Adam Jagger said that despite being 10% up overall, it was still struggling to sell outerwear.

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