Fashion indies grew in numbers last year as the independent sector boomed with indies now accounting for 66% of all retail and leisure units in Great Britain.
According to a report from the Local Data Company, indies opened three times more stores in 2011 than multiples, with indies opening 15,233 compared to 5,094 for chain stores.
The net change in indie openings and closings for 2011 was positive, with the number of units occupied by indies growing by 2,564 (2.4%), however multiple units decreased by 174 (-0.25%).
Fashion and general clothing indies were a key growth area for independents with 21.5% units opening and 18.4% closing, a net difference of 3.1%.
Regionally all areas saw growth across the independent sector with the east of England experiencing a 4.23% increase.
Matthew Hopkinson, 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.”
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.”
He added: “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.”