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Independent outlets on the rise

The failure of Maplin, New Look and Toys ‘R’ Us in the UK came in the wake of a dire year for multiple store closures, with every region except Yorkshire and Humber seeing closures in 2017.

As multiple stores (characterised as brands with more than five stores nationally) closed their doors, independents have emerged as saviours of the high street, offering a retail experience that is memorable and tailored to the customer.

West Midlands, Greater London and East of England saw the most multiple store closures and the North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber hold the highest store vacancy rates.

Inspired by the independent trend, British marketplace OnBuy.com considered retail and leisure multiple and independent openings and closures in 2017, analysing where multiple stores have declined in comparison to areas independent stores are opening.

It was found multiple (chain) store closures occurred in every region – except Yorkshire and the Humber, which saw a rise of 11 openings. The steepest falls were seen in the West Midlands (-143 multiple closures), Greater London (-92 multiple closures) and the East of England (-86 multiple closures.)

The North West, West Midlands and Scotland have seen extraordinary, independent growth. Whilst the East lost 19 independents and the South West saw 29 independent closures the North West benefitted from 230 independent openings, compared to 194 in the West Midlands and 114 in Scotland.

Barbers, beauty salons, cafes and tearooms, convenience stores and tobacconists/vaping shops are all going strong, whilst pubs, inns, women’s clothing and shoe shops, newsagents and bookmakers suffer many closures.

Cas Paton, managing director of Onbuy.com comments: “It is sad to see well-loved, British companies closing– but we must move with the times. Keen business men and women have their eye on vacant spaces across the country and we must support our local independents, bricks-and-mortar businesses. It’s the only way for retail to survive.”