Independent retail store openings soar as major chains face downturn

Independent store openings

A new study has found that independent store openings have grown in all but two regions of the UK as major chains continued to face challenges and general decline.

According to data from online retailer OnBuy, which analysed where chain stores have declined in comparison to areas independent stores opened, the North West, West Midlands and Scotland had the highest rate of independent store openings in UK in 2017 – with 230, 194 and 114 independent openings respectively.

The only regions to have not experienced growth in independent store openings were the East and South West, which recorded 19 and 29 closures respectively.

However, those rates of closures are a far cry from the chain store closure rates seen in other parts of the country.

OnBuy’s study found that multiple store – that is, brands with more than five stores nationally – closures have been seen in every region, except Yorkshire with a rise of 11 openings.

The steepest falls were seen in the West Midlands, with 143 multiple closures, Greater London with 92 multiple closures and the East with 86 multiple closures.

Independent store openings

Barbers, beauty salons, cafes and tearooms, convenience stores and tobacconists/vaping
shops are classifications succeeding the change, as per The Retail and Leisure Trends Report by LDC.

In contrast, pubs, womenswear, newsagents, bookmakers and footwear retailers were suffering vast closures.

When it came to shop store vacancy rates in 2017, OnBuy found that only three regions saw an increase. These include Greater London, which grew 0.1 per cent, the South West  with 0.1 per cent also and Yorkshire, which had the biggest increase of 0.6 per cent.

Meanwhile, the North West recorded the best vacancy rates decline, with a nominal 0.2 per cent decrease. However, the region held the UK’s highest rate of vacancy at 15.1 per cent.

Other regions that held high vacancy rates include North East at 14.8 per cent, Yorkshire with 14.5 per cent.

Alternately, the East, South East and Greater London held the lowest vacancy rates, at 10 per cent, 9.9 per cent and 7.5 per cent respectively.

“In the grand scheme of things, vacancy rates are low,” OnBuy managing director Cas Paton said.

“The fact that only three regions have seen an increase in vacancies is positive and we must focus on this. Otherwise, we risk consistent, unobliging news of multiple closures obscuring our vision and progress to develop the retail world.

“It is sad to see well-loved, British companies closing – but we must move with the times.

“Keen business men and women have their eye on vacant spaces across the country and we must support our local independents, bricks-and-mortar businesses. It’s the only way for retail to survive.”

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