Essential reading for retailers and suppliers in the home improvement market

Hardware indies top sales growth league

Published: 2 November 2015
Another good result in the third quarter means that hardware and DIY independents have now enjoyed the longest-running period of sales growth of independents across all sectors.
Hardware indies top sales growth league
Latest figures from the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) show that garden, machinery and tools indies finally dipped into negative territory in Q3, down 2.8% year on year, ending a chart-topping nine-quarter run of good results. Hardware indies have now stolen the top spot, continuing their long run of growth - albeit with a figure of just 0.2%.

Pet products were down 0.8%, but cookshop indies managed a 1.2% rise. However, big-ticket furniture, floorcoverings and beds indies enjoyed the biggest growth. They logged their fifth consecutive quarter of rising sales with an impressive 9.5% increase - on the back of a 16% increase in Q2.

Overall, the survey's retailers - in sectors as diverse as clothing, gifts, stationery, books and toys - recorded their fifth straight quarter of positive trading. More shops reported increased turnover than in any period since the survey began, but the average increases were the lowest across the same period. As a result sales growth fell back to its lowest level this year, to 1.3% from 2.4% mid-year. Six out of 10 grew, four out of 10 declined.

At the same time confidence levels among independents rose as anxiety fell, giving the best post-crash result.

BIRA also asked members what effect they thought the Living Wage would have on job numbers in their business by the time it reaches £9 or £9.35 per hour in 2020. Over half, 54%, said there would be fewer, while 44% said there would be no effect. Only 2.7% predicted there would be more.

"Redundancies will be made," stated one Welsh hardware retailer.

"Will need to require more productivity, eg, existing staff to take on more responsibility," said another hardware retailer in the south east. "Will also need to restructure wages for those staff currently on higher rates who will expect an increase to reflect their levels of seniority and responsibility. Will also look to recruit younger staff under 21 for new vacancies Would it be possible to introduce scheme where the Living Wage would come into effect after an initial training/assessment period of three months to one year?"

A cookshop in the south west sounded particularly gloomy: "It is quite possible that the wage increases will force closure after 33 years of business. Wages are our largest overhead and turnover has been declining steadily for many years, I do not foresee growth to fund the increases and there are no further cuts that we can make."

However, a hardware retailer in the south east thought: "In our experience it's beneficial all round, not just for our employees, but to the business as a whole, to reward our employees with a good salary."

In addition, BIRA members were asked whether they thought local authorities should be given the power to extend Sunday opening hours: 72.4% said no.


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