Stats passed to BikeBiz reveal that bike shop numbers are relatively stable compared with the wider independent shop sector

IBD numbers steady while bike shop chains grow

The number of independent cycle shops opening and closing in the UK have remained static, with equal numbers (approximately 126) opening and closing in 2015, according to statistics from the Local Data Company.

By comparison, chain cycle shop numbers increased by a modest 1.5 per cent last year, the LDC told BikeBiz.

The steady numbers of IBDs (independent bicycle dealers) showed the strength of the sector compared with the overall health of independent shops in the UK. The number of independent shops opening has reduced from 11 a day in 2010 to just one a week in 2015.

The statistics from the LDC and British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) said that independent shop numbers grew just 0.11 per cent (+117) in 2015 versus a peak of growth of 4 per cent (+1,436) in 2010.

In 2015 a total of 34,288 independents opened while 33,812 shut. In 2014, 69,207 opened while 34,324 closed.

Greater London saw the biggest decline in independent shops, down 347 units. The South West saw the largest change in fortune with a net increase of just +27 units in 2015 compared with +231 in 2014.

Wider analysis saw retail parks continue to increase occupancy (+0.31 per cent).

Independents account for 65 per cent of all retail and leisure units in Great Britain (-1 per cent change from 2014).

"Very gradually we are seeing a new high street emerge"

“Independents are a key component of our high streets and this is seen both in the fact they represent a majority (65%) of the units but also the diversity and vibrancy they can bring along with their direct connection to local economies," said Matthew Hopkinson, director at the Local Data Company. "Whilst the numbers remain positive the dramatic decline in the growth of independents from eleven openings a day to just one a week reflects the challenges many independent businesses face. A number of factors are at play but one of the major factors has been the move of many ‘high street’ anchor retailers such as Next, M&S and River Island moving from the high street shop out of town retail parks. These moves result in lower footfall volumes as people follow them out of town, which has a big impact for the smaller retailers left behind.

"2016 will be a pivotal year for independent births and deaths as history tells us that the ability to go from a large number of openings (+5,615 in H1 2010) to a large number of closures (-1,666 in H2 2010) in a short time is entirely possible. Only time will tell."

Michael Weedon, Deputy Chief Exec of BIRA, said: “Right under our noses great shifts in the composition of our high streets continue to develop. They happen in plain sight, immediately in front of us, yet are only visible in their full magnitude in the LDC data. While one in eight units changed hands last year, with more than 40 new independents opening every day in the top 500 towns and only slightly fewer closing, the balance produced only a tiny gain across the whole.

"But within the figures we see a powerful rebalancing away from product based retail towards service providers, leisure operators and convenience operators. For multiples the picture is different: of the four subsectors only leisure outlets increased in number. Very gradually we are seeing a new high street emerge, as always happens over time, as commerce adapts to ever-changing conditions.”

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