Independent retailers replace high street chains

Mobile phone shops, barbers and beauty salons are rejuvenating the high street as the chain stores desert our town centres.


The number of small businesses on the high street has been increasing every year since 2009, according to the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA). Small businesses are adapting to the needs of consumers and providing them the traditional services we used to see on the high street, whether that’s offering tailoring and alterations, beauty treatments or fixing a phone…..

The Survey of Town Shopping Areas 2013, conducted by BIRA and the Local Data Company (LDC), shows that 44 new independents opened up for every 16 chain retailers that closed each day last year. But the pace of growth of independents is tailing off, with the net openings increasing by 4% in 2010, compared with 0.7% in 2013.


Who are the winners and losers amongst the independents? Mobile phone shops, barbers, tattooing/piercing, beauty/nail salons, charity shops and convenience stores increased their presence in town centres.  Women’s clothing and fashion shops, discount stores, newsagents, jewellers, shoe shops and bars are fewer and far between.


Independent small businesses now make up 66% of all retail and leisure units in Great Britain.


Despite the big chains fleeing the high street, the number of vacant stores is not going up. According to LDC, the number of empty shops has declined from a high of 14.6% in July 2010 to 13.6% in 2013.


The survey shows that small businesses are taking up the challenge. ‘Give an entrepreneur a sniff of an opportunity and a chance of a profit and they will create businesses and fill empty units,’ said BIRA deputy chief executive, Michael Weedon.


The BIRA data comes just as the government launches its Future High Streets Forum, to ‘help town centres to adapt to the modern market today’. It aims to build on the work of the 330 Town Teams and the 27 Portas Pilots set up last year.


What do you think the government can do to boost small businesses on the high street?

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Euroffice Customer at 12:57 pm

    You can order anything online now. There’s a new app on smartphones for all the shops now.

  2. Euroffice Customer at 12:56 pm

    I remember back in 1980 on the way home from the local, struggling to get something to eat late at night as it was a bank holiday, that same street is now home to over 2 dozen fast food outlets – the reason? Fast food late at night is one commodity you wouldn’t think of ordering online !!

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