Most retailers can depend on the Christmas trading period being their busiest throughout the year but that might be about to change if new data from the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) is anything more than an aberration.
The last quarter of 2015 marked the end of a run of turnover growth amongst independent retailers in the UK. The drop-off was also noticed by the Office of National Statistics. Factors including warm weather, flooding, early and deep discounting, slipping footfall and the prevalence of online trading have all been blamed.
The BIRA quarterly survey identified a 2.35% drop in year-on-year sale for Q4.
While the North East witnessed a welcome full year of growth, the flood-hit North West suffered a disastrous 8.5% drop in the Christmas quarter.
These results polarised confidence levels, with nearly one in ten feeling very confident about the year ahead, a third more than in Q3, but with one in twenty moving from reasonable confidence to anxiety, returning to levels seen in the first half of the year.