Independent retailers more resilient than national chains during the pandemic
By David Wood | 4th November 2020
Independent shops have proved much more resilient than national chains during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to research out today.
Independent retailers suffered a net decline of 1,833 stores in the first half of 2020, less than a third of the 6,001 chain stores lost, according to research by the Local Data Company (LDC) and accountancy firm PwC.
Lucy Stainton, head of retail and strategic partnerships at the Local Data Company, said: "The latest figures on the GB retail and leisure market tell the story of an immensely challenging few months for the retail and hospitality sector.
"While the independent market has fared much better than chains, it is still in decline and combined, these two sectors total the biggest decline seen in a H1 period since our records began.
"The independent market has fared better as these businesses have been able to be more agile, bringing in new product lines and offering food deliveries; have a smaller cost base to cover during periods of little or no trade and have been able to take advantage of government support schemes.
"However, as we continue through the year with various local lockdowns and restrictions, life will not get any easier for operators. These figures mark only the first phase in the impact of the pandemic on the retail economy this year with 20% of the market still temporarily shut and with more months of difficult trading conditions ahead.
"This being said, we still absolutely believe in the validity and relevance of physical retailing. Whilst there is no denying the impact of the pandemic on these sectors, this likely represents the inevitable structural change required albeit more painful as a result of the velocity and abruptness.
"With independents adapting well, new entrants still acquiring stores and sectors such as personal grooming continuing to thrive, there is no doubt we will eventually get to a more condensed though diverse and exciting retail and hospitality landscape as businesses and places acclimatise."
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