>>retailers still downbeat about prospects, but trade is up for some, and there is more optimism about

Independent retailers quizzed by The Knowledge Store continue to be downbeat about business, with nearly a third saying trade was down on last year.

However, just over a quarter are still reporting trade up in our monthly Business Barometer. And there is more optimism regarding the next three months. Last month 19% thought sales would be worse over the next three months - this figure has now fallen to 16%. And 26% believe sales will be better, with 53% expecting them to remain the same.

The independents polled are also managing to hold on to their profit margins, with 44% stating them to be the same as last year, and 15% saying their profit margin is up.
Source: based on research carried out by The Knowledge Store in the week commencing 12/7/03 For more details call 01293 610400