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Nearly 35,000 new independent shops open in one year in high street BOOM

Mirror logo Mirror 22/05/2019 Graham Hiscott
a crowded street in front of a large crowd of people: File photo dated 24/12/17 of shoppers on Oxford Street in London over Christmas, as retailers will be hoping Christmas shoppers venture out in greater numbers today after bad weather was blamed for contributing to a slump in footfall on Saturday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday December 16, 2018. Figures suggested the number of shoppers hitting UK high streets was down more than 9% compared with the same time last year, dealing a blow to struggling retailers relying on a festive bounce in sales. See PA story CONSUMER HighStreet. Photo credit should read: Victoria Jones/PA Wire © PA File photo dated 24/12/17 of shoppers on Oxford Street in London over Christmas, as retailers will be hoping Christmas shoppers venture out in greater numbers today after bad weather was blamed for contributing to a slump in footfall on Saturday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday December 16, 2018. Figures suggested the number of shoppers hitting UK high streets was down more than 9% compared with the same time last year, dealing a blow to struggling retailers relying on a festive bounce in sales. See PA story CONSUMER HighStreet. Photo credit should read: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

More than 34,500 independent high street shops opened in the past year, new figures out today reveal.

The number – up 4.5% on 2017 – comes despite a surge in costs, red tape and competition from online giants such as Amazon.

Meanwhile, many big-name chains are closing stores. Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia said it planned to shut 23 Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins branches.

Many of the new small shopkeepers are owners who put their heart and soul into their businesses, driven by a passion for what they do, and sell, and for their local communities.

Today also marks the launch of this year’s Great British High Street Awards, a Government-run initiative in partnership with payments giant Visa and backed by the Daily Mirror.

Gallery: The big brands disappearing from UK high streets (Lovemoney)

Visa’s Jeni Mundy said: “Our research shows that there is plenty to celebrate on our high streets and we’re very encouraged to see independent shops playing such an important role in this.

“We’ve witnessed the huge strides high streets are making in transforming themselves.”

A survey to coincide with today’s launch has revealed surprising confidence among the nation’s smaller shopkeepers.

More than a third of them plan to open another branch in the next 12 months, and 30% intend to employ more staff.

Despite the high street carnage of recent years, 74% said they were more optimistic about the future, a big increase on the 52% from a year ago.

Shoppers, too, back the high street, with 34% saying it is their preferred destination for shopping, beating the 21% who said it’s online hands down. Nearly six in 10 surveyed say they still visit their local high street once a week.

Philip Green wearing a suit and tie smiling and looking at the camera: But in gloomy news - Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia said it planned to shut 23 Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins branches © PA But in gloomy news - Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia said it planned to shut 23 Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins branches

It is a ringing endorsement of the Daily Mirror’s lauded High Street Fightback campaign.

We have been tirelessly demanding action to support town centres.

Nominations for two categories in the Great British High Street Awards open today.

The Champion award celebrates the country’s best high streets, with a separate section for Rising Star. There will be winners in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, plus overall UK winners.

The Mirror is once again backing the High Street Hero award, which honours leading lights in their community.

High Street Minister Jake Berry praised shopkeepers for helping to create “vibrant and dynamic high streets that are loved by their communities.”

© Alexander Spatari

But there are still big challenges. The Mirror’s campaign has 10 demands, including a new tax on online sales and action on business rates, parking charges and public transport.

While today’s figures show 34,511 independent high street shops opened last year, it will not be easy for them to survive.

The Local Data Company has found openings of shops of all types – plus restaurants, pubs and other retail outlets – were outnumbered by closures in 2018.

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