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Independent shops thriving as major chains struggle

Independent shops such as cafés and markets are booming on the British high street, while major chains continue to struggle, according to new research.

A study by the consumer group Which? found shops offering personal services that cannot be replicated easily online – such as hair and beauty services, cafes and tattoo shops, and funeral directors – have all boomed in recent years.

An analysis of almost 1.5 million Ordnance Survey (OS) business records between 2014 and 2019 found of the 10 sectors that have seen an increase in premises on UK high streets, six are categorised as ‘eating out and services’, with the biggest increase since 2014 seen in banqueting and function rooms, which has soared by 114%.

Tattooing and piercing services increased their presence on the high street by 44%; cafés, snack bars and tea rooms by 35%; and hair and beauty services by 31%.

Of the 10 hardest hit sectors, only two were categorised as offering personal services – fast food delivery services and internet cafés, down by 50% and 36%, respectively.

Glasgow city centre saw the biggest growth in outlets categorised as ‘personal services’ in the five-year period, with a 61% increase in premises of this kind.

Coastal towns’ Eastbourne and Hastings both saw considerable decreases in the number of retail outlets on their high streets, down 18% and 15% respectively.

However, both also saw ‘personal service’ businesses rise by 41% in the same time period.

While Torbay and Islington saw the biggest decreases in retail outlets over the same period, with both dropping by 20%, both also saw the number of personal services on their high streets increase by a quarter – 24% and 25%, respectively.

Figures released today last month by PwC and the Local Data Company show an average of 16 high street stores a day closed during the first half of 2019.

‘While it’s concerning to have seen so many well-loved brands disappear from UK high streets in recent years, our research suggests the future of our town centres isn’t necessarily as bleak as the reports of store closures would have you believe,’ said Which? Magazine editor, Harry Rose.

‘As shoppers needs and habits evolve, it’s vital that businesses keep up with these changing trends and consider how they can grow with them, in order to continue thriving on the high street.’

Photo Credit – Free-Photos (Pixabay)

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