The number of womenswear independents fell by 5% last year after 83 more stores closed than opened in the top 500 towns, new research has revealed.
Traditional independent shops across all sectors saw an increase of 159 shops (0.15%) in 2016, while chain retailers remained in decline with a net loss of 896 shops in 2016, according to figures from the Local Data Company (LDC) and British Independent Retailers Association (Bira).
Womenswear independents were flagged as one of the major sectors in decline, alongside newsagents, Indian restaurants and night clubs. They were replaced typically by barbers, hair and beauty salons, tobacconists or e-cigarette shops, restaurants and bars, and mobile phone shops, the research showed.
LDC director Matthew Hopkinson pointed to regional differences, whereby the east, south east and south west of England saw a fall in the numbers of independents in 2016, while Scotland, the east Midlands and the north east of England all saw positive figures.
“None, though, saw as big a fall as Greater London, with its rising rents,” he said. “That challenge is to be amplified over the next five years by rising rates bills as well.”