Indy stores growth boosts UK retail says LDC

Mega-sized retail chains may be closing down their underperforming stores fast but independent stores are being opened more often this year in Britain and this is helping to support overall store numbers, even if shoppers are increasingly buying online. 


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Data released Wednesday by the Local Data Company (LDC) and the British Independent Retailers Association (bira) showed that traditional independent shops opened significantly more shops in the first half than in the same period last year, while chains with more than five stores nationally continued to see a fall. 

Indies saw an increase of 762 shops (+0.27%) this time, much better than the increase of just four shops a year ago. That figure takes into account that over 14,000 indy stores were opened and roughly 13,600 were closed.

A net increase of 562 units in H1 2017 on the high streets was one of the main drivers in the growth of independent retailing, with this being a 181% increase from the 200-unit growth in H1 2016.

But before we break out the champagne, it’s also worth noting that the category that LDC calls ‘comparison goods retail’ (which is non-foods and includes fashion) saw a net reduction of 0.74%. Overall the sector lost 596 stores in H1, although that was an improvement on the 698 lost a year ago.

In fact, specialist independent womenswear stores declined by 3.66%, shoe shops by 3.59% and general fashion stores by just under 1%.

Service retail, which includes health and beauty outlets fared much better and rose 0.94% (also faster than a year ago) with a net increase of 859 units and LDC said that overall, hair & beauty salons were one of the biggest growth areas.

And while high streets saw a dramatic improvement from a net increase of 200 units in H1 2016, to a net increase of 562, this time, there was some even more cheerful news in that shopping centres saw their first net increase in two years (+0.67%) while retail parks rose a fairly strong 3.41%.

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