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Retail Can Work – The Rise of the Independent


As multiple stores like New Look, Maplin and Toys ‘R’ Us become the latest retail casualties on the high street the latest statistics reveal an optimistic rise in independents…

The research collated by British online marketplace etailer OnBuy.com considered retail and leisure multiple and independent openings and closures in 2017. Paying particular attention to study where multiple stores have declined in comparison to areas where independent stores are opening.






It was found multiple (chain) store closures have been seen in every region – except Yorkshire and the Humber with a rise of 11 openings. The steepest falls were seen in the West Midlands (-143 multiple closures), Greater London (-92 multiple closures) and the East of England (-86 multiple closures.)

Independents, on the other hand, grew everywhere except in the East (-19 independent closures) and South West (-29 independent closures.) Closing at a much lower rate than multiples across the UK.

The North West (230 independent openings), West Midlands (194 independent openings) and Scotland (114 independent openings) saw extraordinary growth in their independent store markets.

Further, Barbers, Beauty Salons, Cafes and Tearooms, Convenience Stores and Tobacconists/Vaping Shops are classifications succeeding the change, per The Retail and Leisure Trends Report by LDC. In contrast, Public Houses and Inns, Clothes -Women, Newsagents, Bookmakers and Shoe Shops are suffering vast closures.

OnBuy.com considered retail and leisure vacancy rates by region, since the end of 2016, and found that only three regions have seen an increase: Greater London (up +0.1%), the South West (up +0.1%) and Yorkshire and the Humber –with the biggest increase of +0.6%.

Indeed, regions that currently hold the highest rate of vacancy include the North West (15.1%), the North East (14.8%) and Yorkshire and the Humber (14.5%.) Alternately, the East of England (10%), South East (9.9%) and Greater London (7.5%) hold the lowest rate of vacancy.

North West –15.1%

North East –14.8%

Yorkshire and the Humber –14.5%

West Midlands –14.2%

East Midlands –12.1%

South West –10.1%

East of England –10%

South East –9.9%

Greater London –7.5%

Cas Paton, managing director of Onbuy.com comments: “In the grand scheme of things, vacancy rates are low. 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.”

Jenny Holloway, CEO of FashionCapital and Fashion Enter, adds that retail is in the midst of change and that customers require in-store ‘experiences’ to entice them to shop on the high street.

She says: “Another two casualties on the high street with Toys ‘R’ Us and Maplin! What is it with the management of these retailers – why is there inertia to seize new opportunities? Wasn’t Toys ‘R’ Us in an ideal situation to convert part of their store to a ball park…a soft play activity centre? Moms could have taken their youngsters to play, had a coffee and a bun with friends and bought toys on the way out! Where are the nimble responsive boards grabbing at new opportunities? Retail is about experiences now. 6000 jobs now hang in the balance – retail is not dead; it’s just morphing into something different!”

Food for thought, bricks and mortar retail is far from dead, independents can score by offering unique quality product and an intimate service that is tailored to the customer. Combine this with an additional business such as a hair salon, nail bar, tearoom, games area etc to ensure high street retail becomes a go-to venue.

Thanks to www.onbuy.com for the research information and infographic

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