There has been a decrease in the number of traditional independent shops compared to the same period last year, along with a fall in the number of national chains, revealed data compiled by the Local Data Company (LDC) and British Independent Retailers Association (bira).
The independent sector saw a net decrease of -1,483 shops (-0.49%) in 2017, a significant change from the net increase of +795 shops (+0.28%) in 2016.
A net growth of +44 units in retail parks meant this was the only location type to see an increase in the number of independent shops in 2017.
The chain retailers have also remained in decline with a net loss of -4,010 shops (-1.93%) in 2017 across the country, which compares to the decrease of +2,633 shops (-1.33%) in 2016.
In 2017, a total of 67,503 independents either opened (33,010) or closed (34,493), +4.4% up on 2016, when 64,661 opened (32,728) or closed (31,933). This reveals that whilst numbers are down and closures are high, independent retailers are still opening stores.
Net change in numbers of Independent comparison goods retail (non-perishable goods including fashion, books and homeware etc) was -2.62% in 2017 (-1.50% in 2016). This is a net decrease of -2,240 units, compared to -1,210 in 2016.
Independent leisure (restaurants, cafes, bookmakers & entertainment etc) grew by +0.15% in 2017 compared to +0.49% in 2016. In 2017 there was a net increase of +132 units versus +410 units in 2016.
Independent convenience stores (bakers, butchers, food shops & supermarkets) saw a net decrease of -266 units (-0.88%) in 2017 versus an increase of +314 units (+1.13%) in 2016.
Independent service retail (health & beauty, financial services, tattoo parlours and estate agents) increased by the greatest number of units (+891), yet this did not match the number of openings in 2016 (+1281). In 2017, the net change in units was +0.91% compared to +1.47% in 2016.
Key growth sectors have been barbers, beauty salons, tobacconists/e-cigarette shops and cafes. Independent sectors in decline include newsagents, pubs, women’s clothing shops and estate agents
The West Midlands showed the greatest increase of independents at +230 units (+1.01%) in 2017. The region also saw the greatest increase of independents in 2016 at +280 units (+1.43%). Yorkshire and the Humber and Greater London showed the greatest decline of independents at -460 units (-1.58%) and -374 units (0.54%)
Wales was the only region to see a decrease in the number of closures in 2017 (-1,163 units) compared to 2016 (-1,328 units). However the similar decrease in the number of openings in 2017 (+1,162 units) from 2016 (+1,398 units) has meant that the overall net change is lower in 2017 (-1 unit) than it was in 2016 (+70 units).
Portobello Road in London has the highest percentage of independents across Britain at 95% (based on locations with 50+ units), knocking Sparkhill in Birmingham from the top spot. Telford is the town with the lowest percentage of independents at 19.9% for the second year running.
Wider analysis of in and out-of-town locations show that retail parks saw a significant improvement from a net decline of -3 units in 2016, to a net increase of +44 units in 2017. This represented a net increase of +7.26% in 2017 from a -0.48% decrease in 2016.
The other location types (high streets and shopping centres) saw a decline in the number of independent units. High streets saw a decrease of -476 units (-0.28%) and Shopping centres saw a decrease of -88 units (-1.07%). Both of these location types experienced an increase in the number of independent units in 2016; +929 units (0.58%) on the high street and +47 units (0.59%) in shopping centres.
Independents account for 65% of all retail and leisure units in Britain, the same as in 2016.