With three in four Brits saying it’s important to support shops on their local high street, but a worrying economic climate leading to national brands favouring an online presence, what does the UK high street actually look like in 2019 and how does location effect the number of businesses favouring bricks and mortar over cyber stores?
Finance firm Together has analysed a sample of 6,682 businesses across 120 high streets from towns in all 12 regions of England, as well as Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Categorising businesses and shops by their function (for example, food and drink, retail or recreational) to understand just how our high streets stack up in the current unsteady climate.
Despite the headlines, retail was still seen to retain a strong presence on the UK high street at 30.32%, accounting for nearly one in three businesses.
Cafes and other food and drink business made up the next highest proportion, coming in at 9% and 8% respectively. On the other side of the scale, service companies (e.g dry cleaners) make up a much smaller proportion of our high streets at just 0.25%, followed closely by automotive services and recreational establishments like gyms, both of which also came in at less than 1%.
Research suggests that local independent shops are of high importance to British homeowners – in fact, more than one in three Brits would like to see a return to smaller, local shops in their town. Northern Ireland came out as the best place for independent stores, with more than one in two businesses on the high street (52 %) being independently owned. According to the data, Yorkshire came out as having the least independent high streets, with just over 28% (around one in four) businesses coming out as independent.
According to Together, 43.02% of the British High Street now features independent businesses, with research suggesting consumers want more.