Leading local estate agent Mullucks Wells says that independent retailers are the “saviours of our high streets” and should be championed wherever possible.
The company’s comments follow a recent report in Estates Gazette Retail & Leisure 2016, which tracks the changes in the types of retailers opening, closing or relocating in UK town centres.
Kirstine Watkins, manager of the commercial agency department at Mullucks Wells said: “The national report broadly reflects the trend for retail in our local town centres. Whilst pubs, newsagents and florists may be closing, we’re seeing an increase in the number of independent hairdressers, cafes and restaurants. Regardless of the form they take, we believe that the independent retailer is a vital ingredient in the town centre mix.”
Kirstine Watkins says that times have been tough for independent outlets, with competition coming from large discount stores and the internet.
She explains: “The type of independent businesses currently succeeding are those that can’t easily be replicated on the world wide web. That’s why ladies wear outlets have found conditions particularly challenging. However, consumers are looking for something a little more from their shopping experience, with the personal service provided by independents being more attractive than the corporate offer of the multiples.
“For example, whilst the former flower shop is vacant in Epping, solicitors are drawing up terms with an independent retailer after we received 9 offers for the premises. In Bishop’s Stortford, there’s been interest in replacing Store 21, and in Saffron Walden the former newsagents on Hill Street was leased again within days. Similarly, in Great Dunmow there is little availability on the High Street, with nearby Priors Green Neighbourhood Centre also filling fast.
“The truth is that independent retailers are largely responsible for the distinctive nature of our town centres, and are much loved by their customers. In many ways, they are the saviours of our high streets.”