Barber, cupcake baker, soy latte maker

Despite recent high street closures, number of independent retailers set to remain stable in coming years as changing consumer demands reshape British high streets

  • Modern consumers are prompting a reshaping of the high street as outlets open to fill gaps left by online shopping
  • Research released ahead of Small Business Saturday finds the independent retail sector is set to remain stable over the period 2017-2023
  • Analysis has predicted growth will be driven by sectors including entertainment services (17%), hair and beauty (16%) and health and fitness (15%)²
A study of 2.250 consumers released today ahead of Small Business Saturday (Saturday 1st December) has found that the number of independent retailers in Great Britain is set to experience net growth of 0.3% over the period 2017-2023. Set against the backdrop of current challenges faced by the high street and a series of high profile closures, even such modest growth is encouraging news for independent retailers.
Top five regions based on net percentage growth of independent retail 2017-2023:
  1. Scotland (5.1%)
  2. North West (4.2%)
  3. Yorkshire and the Humber (4.0%)
  4. North East (4.0%)
  5. West Midlands (1.5%)
Top five cities based on net percentage growth of independent retail 2017-2020:
  1. Birmingham (33.7%)
  2. Glasgow (32.2%)
  3. Liverpool (26.5%)
  4. Newcastle upon Tyne (12.0%)
  5. Nottingham (10.1%) 
Noticeably, sectors showing growth are those that are being established to serve the needs of consumers who are increasingly concerned about their wellness, provide opportunities to socialise as well as shop, and offer experiences that can't be replicated online, the research found.
The research revealed growth is predominantly being driven across three key sectors. Independents offering entertainment services like cinemas and escape rooms are set to grow by 17% in the period to 2023, while hair and beauty overall is predicted to see an increase of 16%, and the health and fitness sector follows not far behind (15%).
The study, conducted by GlobalData and commissioned by American Express, also identified ten key categories that are expected to show significant growth. Escape rooms are anticipated to experience net growth of 81%, representing an experience-based category which burst onto the leisure scene in recent years and is set to increase in popularity. The overall growth of hair and beauty means the sector boasts four of the fastest growing categories, with barbers (22%), beauty salons (24%), hairdressers (13%) and tattooing and piercing (20%) all set for a boost.
Ten of the fastest-growing high street categories among independent businesses
Forecast growth in retail unit openings to 2023
Escape rooms
Toys and games retailers
Beauty/nail salons
Tattooing and piercing
Chemists/cosmetics retailers
Gyms and fitness facilities
Electricals retailers
Hairdressers/hair salons
Coffee and tea shops
This relearch has been conducted ahead of Small Business Saturday, which takes place on 1 December this year.
The day, founded by American Express and of which it is principal supporter, is a grassroots, campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to support their local independents. American Express is incentivising its Cardmembers to shop small this festive season with a £5 statement credit when they spend £10 or more at participating small businesses between 1st - 16th December 2018.