Brighter future could be in store for indie shops, Royds Withy King’s retail report shows

October 22, 2021

Independent shops may have a stronger trading outlook than large chains despite the UK’s high streets being under more pressure than ever, according to research carried out by regional law firm Royds Withy King.

However, its Retail Reboot report says that commercial landlords, tenants and local government must work together to redefine what the high street is – and it concludes that they will need to offer a new type of experience that combines retail and hospitality with residential, healthcare and technology options.

Royds Withy King, which has an office in Swindon, drew together analysis from some the brightest minds in the retail industry with own in-house expertise to explore the steps that must be taken to allow the high street to thrive post-pandemic.
It concludes that the future may be brighter than previously thought for the type of independent retailers that makes cities such as Bath, pictured, such attractive places to shop.
This is because they offer a more personalised and enjoyable experience to customers who have embraced shopping locally. 
The report suggests, mixed-use retail hubs are potentially key for the future of independent businesses, allowing them to thrive.
Royds Withy King real estate partner and head of repurposing David Paxton, pictured, said: “We need to redefine exactly what it is we think our high streets are. 
“We tend to see them as retail spaces – but historically they were centres of commerce with people living, socialising and working in them.” 

Retail and real estate partner Vicky Hernandez added: “There is a lot of talk about collaboration, but we need to see more action. 
The survival of the high street really does depend on all stakeholders being prepared to innovate and compromise. It’s not always comfortable but the old ways simply aren’t working anymore, so we need to be bold.”
The report identifies business rates as one of the biggest barriers to businesses opening, expanding or surviving and says a new, modern system of taxation that is fair to businesses that trade offline, online, or both is desparetely needed if the high street is to survive.
One Royds Withy King retail client that is looking to a bright future is independent London based wine merchant The Sampler.
Director and co-founder Dawn Mannis said: “Paradoxically, the pandemic has been great for our business. We were deemed an ‘essential’ retailer during both lockdowns. 
Although we had to turn off our sampling machines we gained a significant number of new customers.
“Our challenge is now to retain those customers by building a more personalised relationship with them by capturing their data, find out about their preferences and phoning or emailing them when their favourite wines come into the shop. 
We certainly benefitted from people who wanted to shop locally and statistics show that over 70% of customers will continue to shop at their local independents.” 
To read the full Retail Reboot report click here

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