Independent businesses take hold in town centres as chain store presence drops

New report reveals growth in independent stores amidst decline of big guns on the high street

Independent businesses take hold in town centres as chain store presence drops

Step aside Mary Portas; it seems as though smaller independent retailers have either taken your advice on board or simply didn’t need it in the first place!

Research from the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) and the Local Data Company (LDC) has revealed the number of independent retailers has risen every year since 2009 as more town centre chain stores have closed their doors.

The data reveals that for every 16 chain retailers that closed each day in 2013, 44 independent stores opened – indicating a slow in growth from 4% to just 0.7% within the same period.

Michael Weedon, chief executive of BIRA, described the margin of growth for the indies as “tantalizingly fine”. He added: “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.”

Sectors enjoying the biggest growth have included convenience stores, mobile phone shops, barbers and charity shops; whilst those suffering from decline include women’s clothing stores, jewelers, shoe shops and bars.

The findings follow on from more than half of small shops seeing their best average growth during the last quarter of 2013 since 2010, during which period just under 50% struggled to achieve their projected targets.

“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,” said 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.”

As we said earlier this year, times are certainly a-changin’ for the Great British High Street. 

Joe Jeffrey
Joe Jeffrey

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