Independent sector returns to growth in first half of 2021
New data has revealed that the independent store market returned to growth in the first half of 2021 for the first time since 2017.
Looking at new figures from the Local Data Company, a net addition of 804 stores meant there were more openings than closures after the sector was boosted by more people choosing to shop locally, a growing appetite for categories such as take away food and convenience stores, and consumers becoming increasingly concerned with the provenance of products, sustainability and supporting local businesses.
The Local Data Company said government support such as furlough, the moratorium on tenant evictions and business rates relief has also helped. However, it warned that the market could see closures increase when support ends next year.
Growth was mainly driven by food retailers such as convenience stores, grocers and takeaway and cafe operators. In contrast, there was a significant reduction in the number of chain store units which saw a net loss of 5,251 in the six-month period. This was an improvement on the figure for the first half of 2020, but still significantly higher than pre-pandemic losses.
As a result of the reduction in multiples, independent occupiers have had access to an increased volume of vacant units, often with attractive deals from landlords including rent-free periods and capital expenditure contributions to encourage take-up of empty units.
Lucy Stainton, commercial director at the Local Data Company, said: “Independent operators are also benefiting from the volume of available units, many of which come with attractive deals from a new market of shopping centre landlords who are now looking to the independent sector to fill the significant number of stores being vacated by chains.”
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