Independent shops declining at ‘disastrous’ rate

Independent shops are in dramatic decline, figures suggest, as more shops closed than opened in the first six months of the year for the first time since 2012, reports The Telegraph.

There was a net loss of 144 independent shops in the first half of 2015, according to figures from The Local Data Company and British Independent Retailers Association. This compared to an increase of 289 for the same period in 2014.

A total of 7,915 independent stores opened in the six months to July this year while 8,059 closed, leaving a net decline of 144 shops.

This compared to 8,544 shop openings last year and 8,255 closures.

Independents now account for 65 per cent of all shops in Britain, a fall of 1 per cent from last year.

“The loss of 144 shops is not a lot in the context of the 279,569 total across Britain, but is disastrous in comparison to a gain of over 3,600 in 2011. The good times are no longer rolling,” said Michael Weedon, deputy chief executive of the British Independent Retailers Association.

However it’s not just independents feeling the impact of the turmoil on British high streets. Chain retailers lost 437 shops in the first half of the year, more than double the net loss of 203 last year.

Convenience retailers, which include bakers, butchers, food shops and supermarkets, were among the biggest casualties on the high street. There was a net decline of 36 units, a dramatic reversal in fortune from the 76-unit increase a year ago.

Service retailers, covering health and beauty parlours, tattoo parlours and estate agents, increased by the greatest number of units, gaining 241 shops in the first half of 2015.