In my last blog I made reference to the fact that if retail vacancy rates in the UK were static, and if multiples had closed more stores than they opened then there must have been a sector in growth otherwise vacancy rates would have increased. I had an incling that Local Data Company was working through their data to ascertain what the underlying dynamic was… and today (1st March 2012) the full report was published.
Retailing in 2011: A year of growth for Independents but a year of decline for Multiples in town centres across Great Britain.
The key highlights of the findings were that:
- Whilst multiple retailers shrank by -0.25% Independents grew by +2.4%
- Independents now account for 66% of all retail and leisure units in GB (+1%)
- Key growth areas have been fashion, off licences (wine shops) and nail bars
- East of England showed greatest increase of independents at +4.23%
- Bury Park, Luton has the highest percentage of independents at 85%
- Telford has the least percentage of independents at 22%
The Local Data Company’s recent report on the openings and closures of all retail and leisure outlets in the top 500 town centres shows that in 2011 Independents opened three times more stores (15,233) than the chain stores (5,094).
It wasn’t all rosy though – 2011 was a turbulent year in these town centres where 12,669 independents ‘shut up shop’ and the chains closed 5,268 units resulting in total closures of 17,937. However, the net change (openings less closures) was positive overall as Independent occupied units grew by 2,564 (+2.4%) whilst multiple units declined by 174 units (-0.25%). These changes mean that independents now account for 66% (+1%) of all retail and leisure units in Great Britain.
If you want to see the full report then you can request it from Local Data Company.
“Independents have the greatest potential to reinvigorate many of our failing high streets…”
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.”
*** The view, and purpose, of Independent Retailer Month ***
Matthew continued: “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, 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’ve been telling 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 a year.
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 Centre First) right and as these figures demonstrate, independent shops will do the rest.”
*** If you read my previous posts – “High Street vacancy rates static, multiples are leaving = #indieretail growing in number…” and “Grant Shapps: 12 “Portas Pilot” Towns to win “golden ticket” and share £1million for regeneration #indieretail” you’ll see that Michael and I are in very strong agreement! ***
You can hear from Michael, in person, at the Independent Retailer Month launch conference, he’ll be participating on the panel discussion and answering your questions about the state of the independent retail sector. Michael will be joined on the panel by representatives from the association of town centre management, action for market towns, federation of small businesses (keep trade local campaign) and Skillsmart Retail (behind July 4th – Independents’ Day). This panel will prove, if you had any doubt, just how much support there is, and passion for, the survival and success of the UK Independent Retail Sector.
Great News for Independent Retailers – So let’s Celebrate success!
I hope, like me, you found this to be a great report and at last some positive news. Long may it continue. I look forward to seeing some of you on 1st July when I’ll be taking your questions for that panel… I am sure it will be a most engaging, passionate and interesting discussion!