The latest shop vacancy report has found that the independent retail sector is struggling, but independent bicycle dealers are bucking the negative trend.
According to the Local Data Company, independent bikes shops have grown four per cent in the top 500 town centres over the first half of 2013.
The data company, together with the British Independent Retailers Association, found a 13 per cent net rise in independent bicycle retail numbers compared to the first half of 2013.
That impressive performance of IBDs is against a backdrop of significant losses of independent shops as a whole. The hardest hit sectors include newsagents, shoe shops and women's clothing shops. Traditional independent shops are declining at the fastest rate ever, with a loss of nearly 200 shops in the first half of this year compared with a total loss of just over 200 in the entirety of 2012.
Regionally, Wales went from a three per cent loss of independents in 2012 to growth of three per cent in the first half of 2013. Conversely, London and the South East lost nearly 100 independents in the same period.
The growth rate of independent shops is at 0.4 per cent – half the rate of this time last year.
Matthew Hopkinson, director at the Local Data Company, said: “It’s a very interesting first half to 2013 for independents. Key ‘storm warning’ changes are the ten per cent rise in openings and closures over the same period last year and the accelerating decline of comparison goods shops.
"This is not just about the internet and out of town competition but far wider business cost issues that make many businesses unprofitable."
Deputy chief executive of the British Independent Retailers Association Michael Weedon added: “More new independent shops are being born than are dying and net growth in the population of independent traders is still, just, keeping the empty shop rate stable. But big changes are occurring in the ecology of the high street as the mix of retailers is changing.
"The government and other commentators tell us that the world has changed and that retail must change with it – as if anyone had a choice. The commercial realities of customers through the door, money in the till and rent bang on the quarter day play out day in day out whatever expert advice is doled out."
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