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Number of indies drops for first time since 2012

Independent retailers closed more stores than they opened in town centres during the first half of 2015, with women’s clothing stores experiencing the biggest decline.

More than 5% of independent womenswear retailers closed during the period, resulting in a net loss of 89 stores, according to research from The Local Data Company and British Independent Retailers Association. This is the first decline since 2012.

There was a net loss of 144 independent stores (down 0.14%) across all sectors in the first six months of this year, compared with a net increase of 289 stores (up 0.28%) for the same period in 2014.

Sectors in growth were barbers, cafes, tobacconists, e-cigarette and mobile phone shops, while those in decline include women’s fashion, newsagents, pubs and jewellers.

Multiple retailers remained in decline, with a net loss of 437 stores (down 0.67%) in the first half of 2015, down from a net loss of 203 stores (down 1.17%) in the first six months of 2014.

The Northeast had the most independent store openings, with a net increase of 33 units at the end of June, while Greater London had the greatest decline of 175 stores.

Portobello Road in west London had the highest percentage of independent stores as a proportion of the total, at 94.8%, based on locations with more than 50 stores, while Ellenbrook in Hatfield was the town with the fewest at 16.9%.

“The first half of 2015 has shown how fluid and challenging the retail environment is, be you an independent or a chain retailer,” said LDC director Matthew Hopkinson. “Of significance is that independents, which account for 65% of outlets nationally, have gone into decline for the first time since 2012.

“At the same time the chains have continued their retreat from high streets, which will, in part, have impacted the independent shops that were left behind through lower footfall and thus sales.”

Michael Weedon, deputy chief executive of Bira, said: “The good times are no longer rolling.

“Shop prices have been falling for more than two years. The costs of people and property continue to rise. When the chancellor makes his autumn statement on November 25 and reports on his next set of conclusions about the future of business rates, this should be at the forefront of his thinking.”


Readers' comments (1)

  • Business rates is a smokescreen for what is really going on. The reality is less and less people are shopping in stores - both multiples and Indies and moving further towards online shopping.

    Speak to the teenagers out there and you can see the future. They will tell you that they hardly go out and shop. Why should they when they can do it in the comfort of they own home with a lap-top, mobile or other device? They are the future.

    Brands are moving into City Centres with their own stores knowing full well that Indies will have to eventually move out. They can afford to run it as a 'showcase loss', whereas an Indie...

    Indies need to move to a secondary or tertiary location with substantially lower overheads. If the brands don't like it, tough. They'll be enough to support you, but baring the very odd exception, they won't be able to stay there.

    The future isn't all doom and gloom, it's just that too many retailers are blinkered to what is going on and won't act until it is too late.

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