Independent shops buck the trend

Originally posted on Insider Media Limited

There are a growing number of independent shops on high streets in England and Wales as the volume of chain stores reduces, according to research published today (25 March 2014).

Data from the Local Data Company and British Independent Retailers Association has found the number of independent high street businesses has continued to grow every year since 2009.

Forty-four independents opened every day in 2013 while chain retailers closed 16 shops a day, according to LDC. Independents now account for 66 per cent of all retail and leisure units in Great Britain, the research found.

A total of 51,908 independents opened during the year while 15,182 closed.

The biggest growth sectors have been mobile phone shops, barbers, beauty and nail salons, tattooing and piercing, and convenience stores. But sectors in decline include womens’ clothing stores, newsagents, jewellers, pound shops, shoe retailers and bars.

The top five independent towns are Barnes in Greater London, Torre in Torquay, East Barnet, Glastonbury, and Stow-on-the-Wold, while the bottom five independent towns are Telford, Salford, Runcorn in Cheshire, Yate in South Gloucestershire and Bracknell.

Matthew Hopkinson, director at the LDC, said: “Against all odds independent retail and leisure businesses have continued to grow in our town centres. While growth has slowed fourfold since 2009, the key fact is that there continues to be vitality and entrepreneurship on our high streets.

Chain retailer activity has been the reverse with more closures than openings happening since 2012 and with more forecast to come. A 3 per cent growth in 2010 has moved to a 0.6 per cent decline in 2013.

“The propensity of independents to survive and thrive varies massively by place, as does the churn rate with over 31,000 independents opening and closing in 2013 alone,” said Hopkinson.

“Clearly the appetite is there and increasingly independents are adjusting to the new challenges of the total retail world (online and offline) as well as the competition they face from their big ‘chain’ brothers.

“Independents are an important part of every town and are the one thing that drives diversity in what has become a homogenous world.”