Britons turn their backs on supermarket chains

The number of independent retailers across the UK has soared year on year, rising by 110 per cent in the last five years.

This has been the biggest surge since ‘The Portas Review‘ published by the government in 2011, wherein Mary Portas wrote that “retail spending on the high street is falling and this trend is set to continue. Clearly the recession has had a big impact.”

But the boom is over “and the bust has exposed the underlying weaknesses in the economy,” she explained. “We’ve seen stagnation and decline in many town centres and the closure of many high street brands. Consumers have had less money to spend in general, let alone on the high street.”

Companies like Woolworths and Comet prove the point that having a name that everyone recognises and, to a certain extent is part of British culture, means absolutely nothing when it comes to the country’s ever-changing economic landscape.

Read more about business that were closed down during the recession:

“Woolworths simply didn’t know how to talk to the new value-conscious consumer and allowed the pound shops, many of which are seeing astronomic levels of growth, to pile in and steal their market share,” said Portas. “A fact made all the more painful when one knows that Woolworths was in fact the original pound shop offering all its merchandise at a fixed single price.”

Now, as shopping has become more of a social experience, the high street has adapted over the years to meet changing consumer needs, offering a number of new opportunities for microbusiness owners to make the most of.

In 2014, coffee shops emerged as the most popular independent store to open, with more cafés established than any other retailer, rising by 31 per cent over 12 months. When coupled with independent food stores – the most popular in 2013 – the number of these shops has risen by 100 per cent between 2010 and 2014.

This ongoing increase in independent food retailers is aligned to the public’s growing disinterest in chain stores, contributing to last year’s poor financial results from the UK’s leading supermarkets. 

The research also found that independent furniture shops were not faring as well in the high street’s evolution, falling by 83 per cent last year. As independent furniture shops struggle with fierce competition, it appears that many of them are adapting, and tapping into the nation’s fondness of upcycling. 

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