May 11, 2021
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Indie businesses worried about UK's too-slow high street recovery

May 11, 2021

UK retail may be open for business again, but some smaller traders are far from happy at the speed of the revival.

Open but struggling: small independent retailers remain fearful after slow high street return - Photo: Pexels

Campaign group Save The Street (STS) is urging the government to stimulate local spending as its latest figures renew fears for the independent retail sector.

In a straw poll conducted by retail space platform Appear Here and Save The Street, 48% of retailers said they were disappointed with the level of footfall since they reopened on 12 April.

More than a quarter (26%) said that they didn’t think their business would survive if shopper numbers failed to recover to pre-pandemic levels. If footfall fails to fully recover, 16% of retailers estimated they would only be able to stay afloat for between one and three months.  

STS said action is needed now to encourage consumers to support their local shops “or it will be too late for many independent retail businesses”.

Indeed, of those surveyed, 77% said they were still in favour of a Shop Out to Help Out-style scheme.

Ross Bailey, CEO of Appear Here and founder of Save The Street, has proposed another incentive scheme for small high street shops similar to last year’s Eat Out To Help Out initiative for the hospitality sector. The proposal would see the government cover 50% of the cost of what the public buys at independent retailers, capped at £10.

With every £1 spent with independent stores generating an additional 63p of benefit for their local economy -- compared to just 40p generated by large firms -- Save The Street is urging the chancellor to look again at their stimulus proposal and do all he can to save the endangered independent shops that are the beating heart of Britain’s local communities.

A month on from the reopening of non-essential retail, disappointing shopper numbers, albeit driven by poor weather conditions, are fuelling concerns that the recovery of the UK high street is taking too long. 

STS points to the latest data from Springboard which revealed that two weeks after the reopening of non-essential shops, footfall at UK high street destinations dropped by 6.1% from the previous seven-day period. Compared to the same week in 2019, before the pandemic, all retail footfall was down 26%.

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