Resurgence of retail demand as High Streets go independent

With news that many large chain stores are continuing to struggle during with the Covid-19 pandemic and the continued rise in popularity of online sales, independent and artisan retailers are stepping up to take their place on the High Street, says commercial property agent Prop-Search.

Over the years, larger town centres have become very homogenous with the same national chains and consumers that invest time and money to visit the high street can more easily shop ‘in’ those stores online.

Samantha Jones, an Associate Director and Retail Specialist at Prop-Search, said: “Concentrate on the household names and it would be easy to conclude that the high street’s days are numbered. But successful independent businesses may have a brighter future than their larger brethren and the high street could ultimately look more like it did a generation ago, with independent shops stepping up to fill the market left by the large chain stores.”

Whilst there have been numerous campaigns over the past few years, the Coronavirus has certainly led to more people shopping local and taking advantage of less crowded stores. Reported statistics show that corner shops and independent grocery stores saw a 63% surge in trade as shoppers turned to local outlets.”

Also during the pandemic, there has been a rise in people’s desire to be creative; with time on their hands to try new skills there has been an increased demand for craft kits, baking packs, wool and sewing machines.”

Samantha Jones adds: “As the large chain stores struggle to compete with the growth of online retailing – most of which is by their own hands – independents are now looking to take their place; from toy shops, book shops and jewellers, to butchers, fishmongers and bakeries.”

“As lockdown eases, we have seen a marked increase in enquiry levels, primarily from people looking to start their own business; one to take control of their own destiny, but also to capture demand for the local shopping experience. Not only is this for the traditional butcher, bakers or barbers, but also those looking to respond to changing consumer demands and the evolution of technology.”

So far from High Streets dying, Prop-Search predicts that It is more likely that they will evolve with the proportion of independent retailers rising. However, this will rely not only on businesses getting their strategy right – from developing a clear business model to embracing digital and striking the right balance between online and offline sales, but also landlords looking to create appropriate sized stores and flexibility with lease terms.