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2017 sees rise of the indie retailer

Data released by the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) for the first quarter of 2017 has shown that more independent retail shops opened than closed during the period.

Figures show an increase of 414 indie shops in January through to March, averaging out to four new stores opening per day. The figure is comparative to a net increase of four shops in the first half of 2016 and a decline of 194 shops January-July 2015.

14,621 independent retail shops opened in 2016, compared to 14,462 closing down, with a net increase of 159 stores, equating to a 36% increase from 2015.

“I am pleased we can see in our results a glimmer of growth in independents on our high streets, and equally that progress is reflected across a range of sectors,” said Alan Hawkins, CEO BIRA.

“It’s encouraging to see a growing vigour in independent retailers across the UK. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the customer both needs and wants to be present when shopping for some items, as well as having online options, and that this will hopefully have a positive impact on independent shops.

“I am worried about the Greater London region, which has seen the worst regional fall in openings in the first half of 2016, coupled with the recent news about higher business rate hits and rental values increasing. It is certainly a tough time for independent retailers in Greater London as well as some other parts of the country.

“These results do however, give us a few good examples of how independent retailers are thriving. Particularly in the West Midlands region which is a growing industrial powerhouse where people have more money to spend which in turn is resulting in more independent shops thriving.”