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UK indies predict an Olympic divide

Boost to trade from the Games is unlikely to stretch beyond the capital, indies say.

Regional indies have complained of missing out on the Olympics uplift, while London indies are expecting to cash in on bumper sales.

An estimated 5.5 million visitors are expected to hit the capital during the Games, with just a proportion of these expected to venture further afield, opening a divide in predicted trade.

Karen Shaw, manager of Newcastle-under-Lyme womenswear indie Galerie, said: “I don’t think people this far north will celebrate it as much as those further south.” Denise Potter, owner of womenswear indie Darcy B, which has three stores in Suffolk, said: “I don’t think it will affect us at all.”

The manager of an Aberdeen-based indie agreed. “We’re not doing anything around the Olympics. People will watch it but they aren’t that bothered.”

Steve Cochrane, owner of Middlesbrough indie department store Psyche, went further, saying it could hurt sales: “If people are not going out because they are watching the Games, they won’t be buying new clothes.”

Other retailers said restrictions on trademarks meant they could not fully embrace the Olympic spirit.

Ian Hopkins, co-owner of niche young fashion indie Pulp, which has six stores all outside London, said: “The Olympics have been too heavily policed so we’ve kept away from the whole thing. We’ve not seen anything yet in terms of sales on the back of the Olympics, and we’re not expecting to. It’s too London-centric.”

Pam Walker, owner of kids’ footwear indie This Little Piggy in Broughty Ferry and Perth in Scotland, has designed the stores’ windows with three podiums in each and red, white and blue colours – but said it had been inspired by more than just the Games. “We always try and dress our windows with what’s current and the red, white and blue colours fit in with many of this season’s colours.”

London indies, meanwhile, have embraced the expected rise in visitors. Designer indie Browns has created gold, silver and bronze window displays and one menswear indie in east London told Drapers that footfall had already started to creep up.

Charlotte Adler, visual merchandiser at contemporary womenswear indie Melanie Boutique in Barnes, southwest London, said: “We are based in a family-oriented area and people will be shopping for parties and celebrations, hopefully leading to a rise in sales.”

Womenswear indie Okeefe in Esher, Surrey, has put Union Jack flags in its windows to create a “Team GB look”. “We had literature from the local council saying we were banned from using certain things so we made sure  our banner didn’t use the logo or rings,” said owner Janine O’Keefe.

Outside the indie sector, John Lewis said it too was expecting mixed results across the UK. Director of selling operations Nat Wakely said: “The impact will be varied, depending on where you are and what you are selling.”

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