It’s official: 2011 was a year of growth for Independents #indieretail @IndieRetailUK

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 #indieretailyou’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!


About Clare Bailey

Clare Bailey, The Retail Champion (formerly Clare Rayner), is one of the most well-known and respected retail experts in the UK. With unrivalled knowledge in retail, high streets and consumer matters, she offers unbiased, independent content – whether engaged as a professional speaker, for broadcast media, or for a written feature. Clare is a business woman, entrepreneur and founder of several small businesses. Having been born into a family of successful business owners, it was inevitable that she’d eventually jump off the corporate treadmill and step out on her own! Today her brand portfolio includes The Retail Champion, The Retail Conference, the Future High Street Summit and the Support for Independent Retail campaign. In addition, she is co-founder of Mobaro Retail UK and a non-exec director of Beed Virtual Assistant Services. Having started her career as a fast-track store management trainee for McDonalds, she went on to work with leading retailers such as M&S, Dixons and Argos. She moved swiftly into management roles before being headhunted into senior consulting roles with global software giant SAP, and international management consulting brand, Accenture. Her corporate background in senior retail, consulting and technology roles, coupled with her experience of creating and running her own business, has enabled her to be equally capable whether consulting to global brands or micro businesses. This unique blend has not only positioned her as a leading expert in all things retail, but has enabled her to add meaningful commentary and insight to the debate around the future of the high street, and, how technology is driving fundamental change in the way consumers, and businesses, interact. Clare has become an influential voice in her field, which has resulted in her becoming a regular media contributor and sought-after conference speaker. Often seen on Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast, Sky News, and Chanel 5 (to name a few), Clare speaks on a myriad of retail, high street and consumer issues – but is particular adept when it comes to explaining the context behind retail trading results, newly released data, and government stats, in a palatable and informative manner. In addition to broadcast and conference speaking, Clare is the proud author of two best-selling business books published by Kogan Page - The Retail Champion: 10 Steps to Retail Success, published July 2012 and How to Sell to Retail: The Secrets of Getting Your Product to Market, published February 2013. She has provided contributions to various academic texts, including Retail Marketing Management (published by Pearson). With an engaging, conversational yet informative style, Clare writes for press and content agencies, providing features, articles, blogs and opinion pieces as well as contributions to white papers and reports. However, when the situation demands a more serious style, Clare can deliver - In 2016 she wrote an extensive report for a major insurance and risk law firm, as a retail expert witness, to support a public liability suit. She found that project particularly enjoyable as it played well to her strengths – assimilating large amounts of data and information, identifying the key points and articulating that in an understandable manner. When not on TV or speaking at conferences, Clare’s “day job” sees her supporting consumer-facing businesses through her consultancy services. When asked to describe what she most loves about retail consulting it is typically the opportunity to “dig deep”, getting “under the bonnet”, in order to leverage the business data to uncover the insights that lead to “lightbulb moments”. She also loves working on business change programmes that centre on improving the processes and systems to increase profitability by supporting more rapid, better informed decision making, improving the customer experience, or simply by become more efficient and streamlined. In this respect she considers herself a “business engineer” with a brain that works like a relational database! Due to her years of experience, her logical, objective approach, her quick, rational thinking, she is known for being able to cut through complexity, seeing right through to the crux of issues, finding creative solutions that others may have overlooked. As if all that wasn’t enough, Clare is a working mum, juggling a home life in rural Lincolnshire with her partner, their 5 kids, 4 cats, and geriatric Labrador! For all enquiries, contact Clare directly on 01727 238890 or email
This entry was posted in Independent Retailer Month, The Retail Champion and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to It’s official: 2011 was a year of growth for Independents #indieretail @IndieRetailUK

  1. Pingback: Take the Lead and Celebrate Your Independence by Avery UK for #IndieRetail | Independent Retail

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s