More shop openings than closings despite testing High Street, according to Local Data Company

Independents outperformed multiples in ’09, says report

Indepependent retailers outperformed multiples in terms of store openings in the second half of last year, a report has found.

The Local Data Company reported that the number of independent cycle shops increased by 3.9 per cent in the last six months, compared with just one per cent for multiple retailers.

Three hundred and sixty independent cycle shops (grouped with sports, toys and hobby shops in the research) opened in the second half of 2009, compared with 225 stores from multiple businesses (6.3 per cent) in the same period.

A spokesperson from the British Property Federation told BikeBiz: “Clearly the green agenda and the focus on making us a nation of cyclists has geared up our interest in bike shops.

“Given that bike retail is one area where a personal touch and good service are integral, it’s no surprise that the sector is enjoying some positive growth despite the challenging economic climate.”

Across all retail sectors, independent shop openings increased by 5.6 per cent in the second half of 2009, compared with just 1.2 per cent of multiples in the same period.

Chief exec of the British Property Federation Liz Peace, added: “Landlords’ commitment to supporting tenants and helping nurture new business has ensured that retail firms have avoided the kind of failures many predicted.”

The first six months of 2008 saw closures reach 1.9 per cent (4,707 closures out of a total of 242,824 businesses) and there were a further 5.4 per cent in the second half of the year (14,290 out of a total of 264,976), giving a total closure rate for 2008 of 7.2 per cent (18,997 out of 264,976).

In the first six months of 2009 6.3 per cent (17,661 out of 281,983 businesses), followed in the second half of the year by another 5.4 per cent (15,834 out of 290,749 businesses), which gives a closure rate for 2009 of 11.5 per cent (33,495 closures out of 290,749).

However, the report wasn’t universally positive for independent retailers. Two hundred and thirty two shops in the ‘sports, toys, cycle shops and hobbies’ category closed in the second half of 2009. In the same category and period, 190 multiples closed a business.

Compared with the first half of 2008, the last six months of 2009 saw overall shop closures up almost six times from 1.9 per cent to 11.5 per cent.

Peace added: “While closures are above ten per cent, it could have been much worse. In order to maintain healthy options for new firms, High Streets need to have a certain amount of empty space.

“However, there is no denying that our obsession with cheap supermarket deals and internet shopping is having a massive effect reshaping the look of [physical] retail.”

The Local Data Company’s research was drawn from 705 town centres in the UK from July 1st to December 31st 2009.

Regional differences

The report from the Local Data Company also revealed that geographical location had a significant impact on the number of store openings.

Shops in Wales, Yorkshire and Humber saw the greatest number of openings. Conversely, London, Scotland and the West Midlands saw the least new activity in terms of store openings.

The net increase of openings across all regions and sectors was nearly four per cent.

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