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Indies bet on festive sales to rescue trade

Fashion indies remain optimistic about Christmas trading despite figures confirming that sales continue to be down on last year.

According to the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), clothing and footwear indies experienced an average fall in turnover of 4.6% year on year for the three months to September 30. Out of the 11 retail sectors Bira covers, the overall average drop was 2%, with fashion faring worst.

However, despite the gloom, the third quarter was the best quarter of the year for fashion indies – in the first quarter sales dropped 4.7% and in the second quarter 5.4%.

Bira deputy chief executive and communications director Michael Weedon said: “Anything people can avoid spending on at the moment, they are not spending on.”

Pamela Shiffer, owner of premium womenswear indie Pamela Shiffer in Primrose Hill, north London, said trade had fluctuated: “There are a few issues; the September season started well and then trade slowed down a little bit. The weather has been confusing and the school holidays affected trade as a lot of my customers have children in nearby private schools. The economy is affecting everyone with the rise of household bills etc, so people are just more careful about spending their money.”

Daniel Le Sauvage, owner of Ipswich young fashion indie Urban Vintage, said the warm weather had not helped increase sales, but added he was “very excited and full of hope” for the Christmas period.

Paul Turner-Mitchell, director of young fashion indie 25 Ten in Rochdale, said growth at the store in the past three months, while ahead of expectation, had weakened a little, but outerwear was proving popular.

He added: “I’m confident [about Christmas], although it remains to be seen how the high street will react with discounting, given [retailers’] actions over the past few years.”

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