The retail sector could be strengthening in 2017 after years of decline and small gains, with more independent shops opened than closed in the first quarter of the year.
A new report from the British Independent Retailers Association (bira) and the Local Data Company shows that there was an increase of 414 independent shops in the first three months of 2017, around four new stores per day, compared to a net increase of just four shops in the first half of 2016 and a decline of 194 shops in H1 2015.
These figures are supported by cloud-based point of sale software provider Vend’s customer data, which shows a 15% increase in sales and retail spending in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period last year, based on a sample of 1,000 UK Vend retailers.
bira CEO Alan Hawkins said: “One of the biggest challenges for retailers is attracting customers in the changing retail environment. Traditional retailers are under pressure and access to the technology that enables them to reduce costs, open new outlets or pop-ups, and easily offer eCommerce options can really stimulate growth.
“While our data for the first quarter of this year is still a way off the 11 store openings a week we saw in 2010, it is certainly a big step in the right direction for the sector.”