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A Retail Renaissance: The Return of the Independent Store

Ryan Willis

The latest statistics show that after initially being hammered by the high-street, we are now in the midst of a retail renaissance as the number of independent stores opening soars. This is being driven by the fact that many more Brits are now choosing to shop at small retailers rather than chain stores.

This looks like a trend that’s set to continue, with young people particularly favouring independents over corporate brands. In fact, a survey of 2,000 consumers across the UK found that one-in-three of the 18-24 age group preferred to shop in independent stores. While the spending power of those consumers might be limited now, it will soon grow as they progress towards their earnings peak.

The plight of the chain store

Although there are still plenty of doom and gloom stories in the press, it is now the larger chains that are struggling rather than the independent stores. In fact, in the first half of 2017, 762 new independent stores opened compared with a net increase of just four indie shops during the same period in 2016.

That news is in stark contrast with the fortunes of larger chain stores. The number of retailers entering into administration rose for the first time in five years in 2017. What was particularly striking was the number of large retailers, defined as those with more than 10 stores, going bust, with an increase of 55 percent year-on-year.  

Why are independent stores so popular?

After years of decline, a recent study carried out on behalf of courier firm myHermes found that the independent retailers’ fightback has been built on the superior quality of the products and the improved customer service they offer.

Part of this resurgence is also due to a shift in consumer shopping habits. 55 percent of the survey’s respondents said they shopped at independent retailers once a week or more, while 8 percent use independent outlets every day. This ‘little and often’ shopping trend is driving customers to local shops and away from the major high-street names. The big weekly supermarket shop has also almost completely disappeared.

Ease of access online makes it easier to open independent stores

As well as changing shopping habits, the popularity of websites like Etsy, Notonthehighstreet and other platforms that sell products from small retailers online have made it much easier for people to open independent stores. About a third of Brits now buy from independent stores online.  

Even Amazon, a company which was once the sworn enemy of smaller stores, is now making it easier for independent online retailers to reach consumers through its Marketplace.  

From one independent business to another

At Nabco, we are the leading independent provider of shelving products and shopfitting accessories in the UK. Our ranges have been designed to offer the flexibility, durability and ease of installation independent retailers need at the best possible price. To find out more, please request a brochure or get in touch with our team.

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