Essential reading for retailers and suppliers in the home improvement market

DIY indies' Q2 sales hold up while others' fall

Published: 6 August 2014
The second quarter saw small DIY and hardware shops bucking the trend of dipping sales in independents generally.
DIY indies' Q2 sales hold up while others' fall
According to the latest figures from the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA), DIY and hardware indies enjoyed a third quarter of year-on-year growth, albeit modest, at just under 1%.

However, BIRA's research - which monitors sales through a range of independents from clothing and books retailers to gift and stationery shops - shows an overall year-on-year fall in the second quarter of 0.7%.

The best performers were garden machinery/tool hire shops, which increased sales by almost 11%, continuing a year-long streak of growth.

Pet product indies also had a good quarter, with sales up almost 3%, but furniture, floorcoverings and beds retailers saw sales slump by over 4%.

The biggest losers, by some way, were cookshop and housewares retailers. This sector, which has been the source of worrying news for some months, saw a reverse from a small gain in the first quarter to a fall of almost 10% in the second.

The bad news was spread almost evenly across the eight geographical regions reported, the only one to buck the trend being Scotland.

Several BIRA members commented about fears for rising interest rates. "April sales fantastic, but May and June was shocking, and I don`t know why the big drop in footfall," said one DIY/hardware retailer. "Other than the [Bank of England] warning of an interest rate rise, it's no big surprise that this was on the cards but has the very mention of this hit consumer spending?"

"Consumer confidence very low - even if they have got the money," commented a cookshop retailer. "When and how much mortgages are going up is their main worry."

And from another cookshop: "I really don't know where this 'strong consumer led growth' is which apparently we are experiencing. Our own figures, and anecdotal reports from many other retailers I speak to, both in and outside our sector, are dismal."

"We are closing the shop and going online only," reported a gifts, glass, china retailer. "Due to footfall diminishing from department stores closing in the high street."

A fellow gifts and china shop was finding the same thing. "Footfall on the high street of small towns has definitely diminished and I think will continue to do so whilst the likes of Amazon continue to have an unfair tax advantage."

BIRA's research also shows confidence amongst independent retailers fell between the first and second quarters this year. Only 8% are very confident now, compared to 12% in Q1, while 55% are reasonably confident compared to Q1's 58%. By the same token, the number of anxious retailers rose to 37% in Q2 from 30% in Q1.


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