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High Street 'Goes Boutique' to Compete With Malls and Supermarkets

LONDON, September 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

  • More specialist outlets cater to increasingly discerning shoppers
  • High street adapts to take on supermarkets and malls
  • Boom in 'make it yourself' and vintage shops reflects 'Resourceful Britain'

A study of the UK's independent shops by Simply Business has revealed that the traditional high street stalwarts of cafes, pubs and takeaways are gradually being replaced by more specialist and boutique outlets such as health food shops, tea rooms, arts & crafts stores, wine bars and old fashioned sweet shops.

The leading business insurance provider analysed over 30,000 independent retail outlets it insures across the UK, revealing that the proportion of pubs is down by 20 per cent in the last year, cafes are down by 11 per cent, sandwich bars are down by 16 per cent and takeaways down by three per cent.

Meanwhile, wine bars are up 13 per cent, tea rooms up nine per cent, traditional sweet shops up by 15 per cent and health food shops increased by a significant 42 per cent - revealing a new-look high street aimed at a more discerning customer. Local butchers and bakeries have also seen a revival, rising 21 and 17 per cent respectively, suggesting shoppers are happy to go to specialist outlets rather than supermarkets for certain purchases.

The high street has been struggling, with latest figures from the British Retail Consortium showing a 5.5 per cent decline on last year's footfall. However, these findings suggest that retailers have taken heed of the advice from Government's appointed 'High Street Tsar' Mary Portas to 'create experiences different to the ones consumers can get online or in shopping malls.'

The findings show further evidence that independent retailers are catering to the needs of recession-conscious Brits, with a noticeable increase in the number of shops dedicated to 'make it yourself' purchases. For example, fabric shops are up 44 per cent, home baking shops by 50 per cent, while art and craft shops have seen a 29 per cent rise in the last year. There is also a trend for vintage and customisable goods, with second hand shops seeing a six per cent rise and charity shops up 27 per cent.

"It is encouraging to see that the high street is adapting to the new retail landscape, where savvy shoppers have numerous alternatives including online, out of town shopping malls and supermarkets," comments Jason Stockwood, CEO, Simply Business. "Our findings show that independent retailers are increasingly looking to specialise or offer something different to alternative outlets, tempting shoppers with a more quirky, unique experience.

"We can also see fascinating evidence that while today's shoppers still like the finer things in life, they are putting effort into making their own treats and also shopping around for bargains. The rise in fabric shops, bakers produce and second hand shops suggests that Brits are becoming more creative and resourceful with how they spend their money."

There are also some interesting trends indicating regional hot spots for certain independent retailers:

  • London remains the place to go for culinary delights, with 12 per cent of its high streets made up of restaurants compared to an average of five per cent.
  • Manchester on the other hand comes top for takeaways with 14 per cent of its outlets dedicated to fast food, compared to only four per cent nationally.
  • Liverpool lives up to its increasingly glamorous reputation, with the largest proportion of fashion boutiques (eight per cent) and hairdressers (five per cent). This compares to national average of four per cent for both.

Notes to Editors:

Figures are based on analysis of 31,786 independent retail outlets insured by Simply Business between August 2011 and July 2012.

SOURCE Simply Business

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