Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 4th December 2018
The number of independent retailers who closed down outlets during the first half of this year reached a record high level for any comparable period.
According to the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA), there was an increase in the number of independent units opened between January and July this year but there was also a much sharper rise in the numbers being closed down.
In fact, BIRA’s latest data indicates that there was a net decline of 1,554 independent retail outlets over the course of the first six months of this year.
Sectors found to be particularly in decline in the first half included estate agents, newsagents, fashion shops and women’s clothing stores.
On the other hand, sectors which saw growth this year, even while the wider retail sector was struggling, included barbers, beauty salons, tobacconists and mobile phone stores.
Regions which saw the sharpest declines in their number of independent retail outlets were Yorkshire and the Humber and London.
BIRA’s chief executive Andrew Goodacre has said that the latest figures, compiled in conjunction with the Local Data Company, illustrate exactly the problems that independent retailers across Britain are currently facing.
“Despite more businesses opening, we have seen more closing, resulting in a net loss from the high street,” he said in a statement.
“BIRA have been saying for a long time that independent retailers need support from local and national governments.
“The recent Budget announcements regarding a rates reduction and the setting up of a high street fund are very welcome and we hope it is not too late to provide a lifeline to these important businesses.”
According to BIRA, independent retail and leisure operators account for around 65 per cent of all the outlets currently to be found across Britain.
The retail sector as a whole has been enduring a tough time throughout 2018, with several very well-known high street brands having collapsed into administration and shut down their entire operations.
Analysis carried out by the Press Association earlier this year estimated that close to 50,000 jobs were lost within the UK’s retail sector as a whole during the first six months of this year.