Despite consumer uncertainty as the prospect of Brexit looms ever larger, data released by the British Independent Retailers Association and the Local Data Company suggests that independent retailers opened more shops than their corporate counterparts in the first half of 2017.
During this period, there were 762 new independent stores – an increase of 0.27 per cent – compared with just four new shops in the same period last year.
Decline of multiples
In contrast, the bigger retailers with multiple outlets have continued their decline. In contrast to the increase in independents, chain retailers saw a net loss of 659 units in the first six months of this year; however, this rate is slower than during the same period in 2016, when 2,001 units closed.
Convenience is king
It seems that the days of the big out-of-town stores are gone, with people now shopping ‘little and often’ as they might have done years ago. Butchers, bakers and other food stores saw an increase of 24 units in the first six months of this year.
The fortnightly magazine Convenience Store has reported more about the increase in store openings, especially in the convenience sector.
If you are tempted to start up your own independent business, do your research and come up with a carefully thought-out business plan that covers funding, strategy, customer research, premises, marketing and more.
You might think starting out with secondhand equipment is a way to save money, but make sure this is not false economy; for example, a shop serve over is a key piece of equipment between you and your customer and for displaying your product to its best advantage. If it looks shabby, the perception – even subconsciously – is that your business is also sub-standard. It might also be less energy efficient, so it is worth checking out your options with a specialist retailer such as https://www.fridgefreezerdirect.co.uk/serve-over-counters.
Retailing is cyclical. Whilst small independent retailers are currently facing a period of prosperity, business owners should look ahead and anticipate the next trends to be ready to attack them head on. There is also the ongoing growth of internet sales, of course, which shows no sign of declining. Choose your niche wisely; for example, pick a product not available from the biggest online retailers, such as handmade products, or food lines with a very short life.