Salons, tattoo shops & funeral directors “thriving on high street”

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Hair and beauty salons, tattoo and piercing shops and funeral directors are booming on the UK's high streets amid concerns for the future of some retailers.
The hardest hit sector was book and map sellers as consumers switched to Amazon.
// Tattooing and piercing services increased their presence on the high street by 44%
// Glasgow City saw growth of 61% in outlets categorised as “personal services”

Hair and beauty salons, tattoo and piercing shops and funeral directors are booming on the UK’s high streets amid concerns for the future of some retailers.

A study by Which? analysed almost 1.5 million Ordance Survey records to compare Britain’s retail and services landscape between 2014 to 2019.

The findings showed that stores under the category of personal services, markets, and food specialists are thriving because they cannot be easily replicated online.

According to analysis by the consumer group, many high streets are moving away from being “carbon copies of one another” towards a model familiar to older generations.


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Which? reported that out of the 10 sectors that have seen an increase in premises on UK high streets, six are categorised as “eating out and services”, with the biggest increase since 2014 seen in banqueting and function rooms, at 114 per cent).

This was followed by markets, one of the few sectors categorised as a retailer in the top 10, which saw an increase of 52 per cent between 2014 and 2019.

Tattooing and piercing services increased their presence on the high street by 44 per cent, cafes, snack bars and tea rooms by 35 per cent and hair and beauty services by 31 per cent.

Of the 10 hardest hit sectors, only two were categorised as offering personal services: fast food delivery services and internet cafes – the rest were categorised as retailers.

The hardest-hit sector was book and map sellers, hit by the rise of Amazon, which saw a reduction of 70 per cent over the five-year period.

Other sectors to suffer included computer shops, shops selling second-hand supplies, electrical goods and components sellers, and art and antique stores.

Research showed that Glasgow City saw the biggest growth in outlets categorised as personal services in the five year period, with a 61 per cent increase in premises of this kind.

Eastbourne and Hastings both saw considerable decreases in the number of retail outlets on their high streets.

However, both also saw significant increases in the presence of personal service businesses.

While Torbay and Islington saw the biggest decreases in retail outlets over the same period, both also saw the number of personal services on their high streets increase.

In an effort to keep pace with the changing high street landscape, some department stores and chains have started offering hair and beauty services, coffee shops or tattoo and piercing services within their stores.

“While it’s concerning to have seen so many well-loved brands disappear from UK high streets in recent years, our research suggests the future of our town centres isn’t necessarily as bleak as the reports of store closures would have you believe,” Which? magazine editor Harry Rose said.

“As shoppers needs and habits evolve, it’s vital that businesses keep up with these changing trends and consider how they can grow with them, in order to continue thriving on the high street.”

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