Retail destinations embrace independents since Pandemic

31st July 2023 | Jack Oliver

The majority of shopping destinations have taken on more independent retail since the Pandemic, according to new findings.

Research from CACI’s Centre Dynamics Platform analysed a range of shopping destinations including city centres, shopping malls, and regional towns.

It found that 38% of regional malls, 31% of outlet centres, and 29% of suburban centres have increased their independent provision compared to 2019.

City centres were also found to be a hotspot for independent retailers, with only one across the country – Belfast – having a smaller amount of independent retailers compared to before the Pandemic.

CACI’s data also identified a number of regional trends, with 22% of London locations losing independent retailers, the highest national rate. However, London as a whole has seen an increase in independents of around 2%, equating to about 15 operators per destination.

Although the capital has the highest number and proportion of independents, other regions have seen a greater amount of relative support for local brands since the Pandemic in the north. Northeastern, Northwestern, and Scottish destinations have grown their independent provision by 32%, 28%, and 26% respectively.

Olivia Longmore, senior consultant in location analytics at CACI, said: “There is a clear indication that shopping centre owners see local independent brands as the best way to rebalance their offer and up visitor engagement; historically it would certainly have been weighted to more household names. It’s also interesting to see that city centres have managed to not lose out on independent operators as part of their overall tenant mix, which suggests that these brands are resonating more with people post-pandemic, as office-led locations push for new and exciting ways to attract workers during the week.

“Historically there have been fewer independents in the North of England, but the region is now catching up with the rest of the UK, which could be inspired by the post-pandemic emphasis on ‘love local’.”


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