Independent shops are key to saving the nations high streets
The vitality of town centres and high streets is dependent on the nations independent shops according to new research by the Local Data Company, following up a report published with bira, The British Independent Retail Association in 2011.
The Local Data Company’s recent report on the openings and closures of all retail and leisure outlets in the top 500 town centres in 2011 shows that Independents opened three times more stores (around 15,000) than the chain stores (circa 5,000) with more than 20,000 store openings in total.
2011 was still a turbulent year in these town centres where over 12,000 independents ‘shut up shop’ and the chains closed over 5,000 units resulting in total closures of over 17,000.
These changes mean that independents now account for 66 percent of all retail and leisure units in Great Britain.
Michael Weedon, Deputy Chief Executive of the British Independent Retailers Association, said: “Reports of the death of the High Street have been greatly exaggerated. Independents have been opening shops in increasing numbers while multiples have been shutting up or moving out. We told the government this throughout the Portas Review and this report from LDC makes the real numbers in the debate crystal clear – there was a net gain of over 2,500 independent shops in Britain last year, that is about ten small towns’ worth of new shops in just twelve months."
Matthew Hopkinson, director at the Local Data Company commented:
“This report shows how significant independents are to the future of our High Streets particularly now as chain stores reduce their numbers. It also challenges the common view that independents are an endangered species being killed off by supermarkets and the internet. In many towns they are the mainstay and are at the forefront of the move for communities to keep spend local in their economy by supporting the local independent businesses.
“Given the right conditions, support and opportunity independents have the greatest potential to reinvigorate many of our failing high streets. The choice lies with us as shoppers to physically visit and spend our money in these outlets and the independents who own them to work harder than ever before to deliver the personal service and unique offer that the internet and large multiples struggle to achieve.”
Michael Weedon, added: "If the government and local councils want to save their town centres and to create growth then they have to ensure that the environment is right to keep these businesses in business. Put parking, property (business rates and rents) and planning (town centres) right and as these figures demonstrate, independent shops will do the rest.”