Independent retailers opened more shops than they closed in 2016.
Still a nation of shopkeepers – traditional independent retailers opened more shops than they closed in 2016.
Data released today by LDC and British Independent Retailers Association (bira) shows that traditional independent retailers opened more shops than were closed in 2016 in Britain’s top 500 town centres, whilst the national chains continued to see a fall. Independent shops saw an increase of +159 shops (+0.15%) in 2016. This equates to a +36% increase from 2015, where +117 shops were added across GB.
The chain retailers have remained in decline with a net loss of -896 shops in 2016 across the top 500 town centres, which compares to -498 shops in 2015.
- In 2016 the net change in independents was +159 units (+0.15%) versus +117 (+0.11%) in 2015
- In 2016 a total of 29,083 independents either opened (14,621) or closed (14,462), down on 2015 where 29,936 shops opened (15,026) or closed (14,910).
- Comparison goods (non perishable goods) shops net change was -2.01% in 2016 (-1.52% in 2015). This is a net decrease of –635 units, an increase on from -487 in 2015.
- Leisure (restaurants, cafes, bookmakers & entertainment) growth has increased by +0.34% in 2016 compared to a +0.39% increase in 2015. In 2016 there was a net increase of +116 units versus a +130 units in 2015.
- Convenience retail (bakers, butchers, food shops, & supermarkets) saw a net increase of +91 units (+1.01%) in 2016 versus a increase of +88 units (+0.98%) in 2015.
- Service retail (health & beauty, financial services, tattoo parlours and estate agents) increased by the greatest number of units at +587 units, up from the +385 increase in 2015 (+1.92% in 2016 versus +1.28% in 2015).
- Key growth sectors have been Barbers, Hair & Beauty salons, Tobacconists/e-cigarette shops, Restaurant & Bar, and Mobile phones.
- Sectors in decline include Newsagents, Women’s clothing, Indian restaurants and Night clubs.
- Tobacconists/e-cigarettes (+42%) and Middle Eastern restaurants (+33%) have increased the most as a percentage of their total units.
- The East Midlands showed the greatest increase of independents at +87 units (+1.19%) in 2016, versus +17 units (+0.23%) in 2015.
- Greater London continues to see the greatest decline of independents at -154 units (-0.48%), but at a slower rate than in 2015 (-212 units, -0.65% in 2015).
- Scotland has seen a boost in the number of independents with an increase of +130 units in 2016 compared to an increase of +75 units in 2015.
- Glastonbury has the accolade of having the highest percentage of independents at 85.6% (based on locations in the top 500 town centres).
- Salford is the town with the lowest percentage of independents at only 18.1%, against a GB average of 65% (based on locations in the top 500 town centres).
- Wider analysis of in and out of town locations shows that High Streets saw an improvement from a net increase of +119 units, to a net increase of +167 units in 2016. This represented a +40.3% increase year on year.
- The other location types saw less of an overall change with Shopping Centres still recording a net decline of -0.22% (versus +0.02% in 2015) and Retail Parks edged in up by +9.09% (versus -14.81% in 2015) although these locations types make up under 5% of the total Independent market.
Independents account for 65% of all retail and leisure units in Great Britain, the same as in 2015.
Top 10 independent business openings by classification mix
|Category||Net Change %||Units Net Change|
|Restaurant & Bar||7.2||88|
|Hair & Beauty Salons||3.5||68|
|Take Away Food Shops||2.5||53|
Table 1. Largest amounts of independent units opened by business type in 2016 across Top 500 town centres (Source: LDC)
Top 10 independent business closures by classification mix
|Category||Net Change %||Units Net Change|
|Clothes – Women||-5.4||-83|
|Restaurant – Indian||-4.1||-70|
|Fast Food Take Away||-2.2||-58|
Table 2. Largest amounts of units closed by business type in 2016 across Top 500 town centres (Source: LDC)
National and regional net variations of independents
|Regions/Nations||Net Change %||Units Net Change|
|East of England||-0.29||-83|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||0.39||-45|
Table 3. Net percentage change (openings minus closures) of independent units by region in 2016 across Top 500 town centres (Source: LDC)
National and regional openings and closures of independents
Table 4. Net openings and closures of independent units by region in 2016 across Top 500 town centres (Source: LDC)
Top 10 independent towns (Top 500 town centres)
|Balaam Street, Plaistow||84.3%|
|St. Margarets East, Richmond||81.0%|
Table 5. Towns with the greatest percentage of independent retailers (Source: LDC)
Bottom 10 independent towns (Top 500 town centres)
|Welwyn Garden City||26.1%|
Table 6. Towns with the least percentage of independent retailers (Source: LDC)
Change in independents’ numbers by location type
|Location Type||Net Change %||Units Net Change||Net Change %||Units Net Change|
Table 7. Net change by location type for Independents across the Top 500 town centres (Source: LDC)
LDC is the UK’s leading data creator using real people on the street to acquire the most up to date, on demand location and company specific data for the retail and leisure sectors.
Matthew Hopkinson, Director at the Local Data Company commented:
“Independents are becoming ever more important to our High Streets. Year by year the net gain of small businesses is accelerating, even as the net loss of chain stores increases. They are changing the face of our towns as well, as Barbers and Bars replace Clothing shops and Newsagents, with Service and Leisure gradually substituting for Comparison shops.”
“Not all towns, or even regions are benefiting from that growth, though, the East, South East and South West of England saw a fall in the numbers of independents in 2016. None, though, saw as big a fall as Greater London, with its rising rents. That challenge is to be amplified over the next five years by rising rates bills as well.”
He added: “The high levels of openings and closures among independents must be seen as a sign of continued buoyancy in our towns. But there is no room for complacency – with a gain on balance of just 159 shops on the back of more than 29,000 openings in 2016, it would take very little for net gains to become net losses.”
Alan Hawkins, CEO, British Independent Retailers Association (bira), said:
“It’s good to have some positive new at last especially in Scotland. It’s clear that the real winners are those areas where the customer has to be present such as hair and beauty. Service, leisure and convenience stores all showed good positive net openings with only comparison shops doing worse. The truth that most bira members are in this oddly named category is an issue we and our members are working hard to redress
“Given that there are over 100,000 independents in the top 500 towns is news to celebrate, as is that 65% of all retail and leisure outlets are independents. The fact that net growth is still in the low hundreds means no letup in our effort to convince government that support is needed. Without them it would be a much emptier exchequer. The next few LDC surveys will make interesting reading as the government has failed to deliver the fundamental rates reform we were looking for and we expect some economic realities to hit home.”
Note: The total number of independent businesses covered in this research across the Top 500 town centres in GB was 104,963 (+0.09% increase from 2015)