Independent store openings accelerate in 2017

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British independent shops opened significantly more outlets in the first half of 2017 than in the same period last year, whilst national chains suffered a fall, a new report shows.

Independent stores saw an increase of 762 shops in the first six months of the year, a huge rise from the net increase of 4 shops in H1 2016, according to data released by The Local Data Company and British Independent Retailers Association (bira).

A net growth of 562 units on the UK’s high streets this year was one of the main drivers of growth in independent retailing, a 181% increase from the +200 unit increase in H1 2016.

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Chain retailers (those with more than five stores) remained in decline this year, with a net loss of 659 shops, compared to a loss of 2,001 shops in the first six months of last year.

The North West showed the greatest increase of independents at +230 units in H1 2017, versus +14 units in H1 2016.

The East of England and South West showed the greatest decline of independents, with 19 units and 29 closed in the same period respectively.

Local Data Company director Matthew Hopkinson comments: “The first half of 2017 has seen remarkable growth in the opening of independent shops and food & 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.

“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% 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,” he continues.

“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.”

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