Traditional independent shops fall into decline for the first time in three years

Kasmira Jefford
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Bookshops were among the ten biggest closures in the second half (Source: Getty)

Traditional independent shops are disappearing from the high street at a faster rate than before after new figures show that the number or closures outstripped new openings in the first half of 2015.

For the first time since 2012, independent shops have gone into decline with a loss of 144 shops in the first half of 2015, down 0.14 per cent.

This compares to a net increase of 289 shops, or 0.28 per cent growth, for the same period in 2014, according data released today by The Local Data Company (LDC) and British Independent Retailers Association (bira).

This is despite the LDC reporting last week that overall vacancy rates across the UK have fallen to their lowest level since April 2010, while shops closures have also fallen to a five-year low.

Independent women’s clothing shops, newsagents, public houses and jewellers suffered the biggest decline while barbers, cafes, tobacconists and mobile phone shops enjoyed the strongest growth.

Convenience retail such as bakers, butchers and other food retailers went into decline from growth in previous years, with a net 36 units closures compared with the first half of last year when 76 stores opened.

Leisure openings such as restaurants has slowed since last year to 0.06 per cent growth – or 21 shops – compared with 0.37 per cent growth (125 units) the same time last year.

Meanwhile service-led retailers such as health & beauty shops and financial services, increased by the biggest number of stores (241) - up 0.8 per cent on last year.

Michael Weedon, Bira’s deputy chief executive said: “Since 2010 the net numbers of independents have been growing, adding more than 7,000 extra retailers to the High Street. This has been a lifesaver for town centres in a period in which multiples have consistently shuttered shops – as they continue to do.”

“Now the High Street has run out of road..closures have been accelerating,” he added.

LDC director Matthew Hopkinson, said: “The first half of 2015 has shown how fluid and challenging the retail environment is be you an independent or a chain retailer.

Of significance is that independents, which account for 65% of outlets nationally, have gone into decline for the first time since 2012.

At the same time the chains have continued their retreat from high streets, which will, in part, have impacted the independent shops that were left behind through lower footfall and thus sales.”

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