Data released by the Local Data Company (LDC) and British Independent Retailers Association (bira) shows that traditional independent shops opened slightly more shops than were closed in the first half of 2016 in Britain’s town centres, while the national chains continued to see a fall.
Independent shops saw an increase of +4 shops (+0.00%) in H1 2016. This is a reversal from the net decline of -194 shops (-0.07%) in H1 2015. A net growth of +200 units in H1 2016 on the High Streets was one of the main drivers in the growth of independent retailing in H1 2016.
The chain retailers have remained in decline with a net loss of -2,001 shops (-1.02%) in H1 2016 across the country, which compares to -828 shops (-0.44%) in H1 2015.
Independents account for 65% of all retail and leisure units in Great Britain, the same as in H1 2015.
LDC director Matthew Hopkinson commented: “It is encouraging to see a reversal in fortunes of independent shops from a year ago with positive change, albeit minute, yielding a net gain of just four shops across the country! Independents are a sensitive barometer of business confidence and thus their fortunes are worth tracking closely.
“As ever the devil is in the detail and regional variations abound, with decline visible in London but with increases evident in the West Midlands and a reversal of fortunes for independent ‘shops’ in Scotland. Contrary to popular belief the high street is alive and well with independents, and, H1 2016 saw a tenfold increase in net openings from a year ago. This sector continues to provide a key element of stability to our towns in particular.”
Bira chief executive Alan Hawkins added: “I am pleased we can see in our results a glimmer of growth in independents on our high streets, and equally that progress is reflected across a range of sectors.
“It’s encouraging to see a growing vigour in independent retailers across the UK. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the customer both needs and wants to be present when shopping for some items, as well as having online options, and that this will hopefully have a positive impact on independent shops.”