Independents replace chains on UK high streets, report finds

Lucie Mitchell
Contributing Editor
Sift Media
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The number of independent retailers has risen every year since 2009, as more town centre chain stores close their doors, according to new data.

For every 16 chain retailers that closed each day last year, 44 independents opened, with a net growth in independents of 726 last year, research by the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) and the Local Data Company (LCD) has revealed.
Meanwhile, chain retailers have experienced more closures than openings since 2012, moving from 3% growth in 2010 to a decline of -0.6% in 2013.
However, the report also showed that growth in independents has slowed with each passing year with net openings growing by 4% in 2010, compared to just 0.7% in 2013.
BIRA deputy chief executive Michael Weedon remarked that, although the margin of growth was "tantalizingly fine", it is still the third year of this kind of growth and change.
"Give an entrepreneur a sniff of an opportunity and a chance of a profit and they will create businesses and fill empty units.
"Government's role in this is to remove obstacles, dismantle barriers to the profitability of small shops and clear the way for them to lead our towns into a future that incorporates the best of the past."
In terms of regions, Barnes in south west London boasted the highest number of independents, at 96.6%, whilst Telford in Shropshire had the least at just 18.4%.
The south west of England has seen the biggest increase in independents, with 206 more shops last year, whilst Greater London had the highest decline, with a loss of 157.
The sectors that have enjoyed the greatest growth have been mobile phone shops, barbers, beauty/nail salons, tattooing/piercing, charity shops and convenience stores; whilst those that have suffered a decline include women’s clothing and fashion shops, newsagents, jewellers, discount stores, shoe shops and bars.
"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," added Matthew Hopkinson, director at the LDC.
"Independents are an important part of every town and are the one thing that drives diversity in what has become a homogenous world."


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