Data released recently by The Local Data Company (LDC) and British Independent Retailers Association (bira) shows that traditional independent shops opened significantly more shops than in the same period last year. National chains continued to see a fall.
Independents account for 65 percent of all retail and leisure units in Great Britain. In H1 2017, independent shops saw an increase of +762 shops (+0.27 percent) a significant net increase on the +4 shops (+0.00 percent) in H1 2016.
The chain retailers have remained in decline with a net loss of -659 shops (-0.33 percent) in H1 2017 across GB, which compares to -2,001 shops (-1.02 percent) in H1 2016.
Alan Hawkins, CEO, British Independent Retailers Association (bira), commented: “It’s good to see independents, and the high street in particular, leading the way in net unit growth for the first half of 2017. The courage and we hope skill of the independent entrepreneurial spirit will fly long after the prophets of doom are silent.
“The predictability of the growth areas is perhaps a little disappointing being centered on the areas where the customer has to be present, but let’s not knock that, barbers, nails and a cup of coffee all help footfall and give even the harder pressed comparison goods shops a chance to wave their retail magic.”
Matthew Hopkinson, Director at Local Data Company added: “The first half of 2017 has seen remarkable growth in the opening of independent shops and food and beverage outlets across Great Britain with a net increase of 762 new trading stores. This is significant in what is a challenging environment and where many chain retailers are closing stores.
“Of note is the 10 percent reduction in overall activity (openings and closures) as this reflects increasing uncertainty in the market or where opportunities to invest are reducing. As the numbers show, independents are an increasingly important stakeholder in every town centre up and down the country and therefore an understanding of how they are performing is key.
“65 percent of all the retail and leisure units across Great Britain are independents and this number has increased in recent years. The internet, customisation and providing a personal service is something that will fuel the openings of independents on our high streets.
“History, however, tells us that independents also have the propensity to change rapidly from growth to decline due to the marginal nature of some businesses, shorter lease lengths and wider impacts of changes to the costs funding. For now, it is a good news story and one that we should celebrate and support.”