Independents open three times as many shops as chain retailers

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Independent retailers opened three times as many high street shops as the chain retailers last year, research by the Local Data Company has found.

A report on the opening and closing of all retail and leisure outlets in the top 500 town centres in 2011 found independent retailers opened 15,233 stores, compared to multiple retailers which only opened 5,094 stores.

Last year 12,669 independents ‘shut up shop’ and the chains closed 5,268 units resulting in total closures of 17,937 stores.

The net change was positive as the number of shops occupied by independent retailers grew by 2.4%, while units occupied by multiples declined by 0.25%.

These changes mean that independents now account for 66% of all retail and leisure units in Great Britain, an increase of 1% on the previous year.

Comparison goods retailers were hardest hit with the sector as a whole showing minimal growth of 0.45%, but this growth was led by independent retailers.

Key growth areas for the independents included auto and accessories, charity, pet shops and single price shops.

While all regions showed a positive picture for the independents six out the eleven areas showed a negative result for multiple retailers, with the most impacted areas being Scotland, where they decreased by 1.1% and the North East where they reduced their presence by 1%.

The areas with the highest percentage of independent retailers were Bury Park in Luton where they account for 84.8% of shops, Upton Park where they account for 84.7% and Finsbury Park with 82.8%.

Matthew Hopkinson, a director at the Local Data Company, said: “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.”

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