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Indie openings boosted by favourable rents

The number of stores occupied by clothing independents grew by 6.3% in the second half of 2009 as the effect of favourable rents offered by landlords during the recession kicked in, prompting expansion within the sector.

The rate of new store openings by independents outperformed the rate of openings within the clothing multiple retail sector, which recorded a 1.8% increase in new store openings between July and December 2009.

The findings came from an Openings & Closures report by The Local Data Company, which surveyed 6,351 clothing independents and 9,049 clothing multiples across 705 towns and cities in the UK.

Of the independents surveyed, 533 stores closed during the period while 931 stores opened.

Local Data Company business development director Matthew Hopkinson said: “Expectations were that during the recession, small independent retailers would struggle to find funding for survival let alone expansion. Yet it seems it’s the multiples that have been paying the price for their rapid expansion into the high street over the past decade.”

According to the report, of the 3,833 womenswear and kidswear independents surveyed, 335 stores closed while 505 opened, resulting in a 4.4% increase in units.

In the multiple womenswear and kidswear sector, 411 stores closed while 168 opened, resulting in a 6.6% decline in units. The drop was in part attributed to the collapse of kidswear multiple Adams.

In the menswear independent retail sector, out of 1,275 menswear independents surveyed, 92 stores closed while 122 opened, resulting in a 2.4% growth in stores during the period. The 970-store menswear multiple sector contracted by 1.3% as 44 stores closed and 31 opened.

Hopkinson added: “What the research shows is that independent retailers have demonstrated great resilience during tough economic times. The main factors which contribute to the growth rate in independents are the high-profile multiple retailer failures and the opportunity for independents to open up in good locations for very good rents. They are also fairly internet resilient. Independents have shown that where they have a unique offer, great service and a solid product range, they not only survive but they also thrive.”

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