Brits support local stores, but spend less

Brits are overwhelmingly supportive of their local stores, with 81 per cent buying in independent shops, drawn by unique products (39 per cent) and personal service (28 per cent).

The findings are based on actual anonymised information from a sample of 13,000 retailers globally using point of sale provider Vend – the vast majority being independent retailers with between one and 10 stores.

The report also draws on a survey of 2,004 nationally-representative UK adults, conducted this month, which found that 35 per cent value the role of independent retailers on the High Street, and 31 per cent want to support resident entrepreneurs.

The UK scored the highest average number of transactions at the till across the five regions analysed, at 793, followed by New Zealand with 737, North America with 648, South Africa at 625, and Australia with 607.

However, UK independents are tracking monthly revenues at an average of 5.1 per cent lower than their equivalents in North America, Australia and New Zealand. Brits pay an average of £34.37 at the till, while Americans spend £44.55.

Higor Torchia, managing director at Vend EMEA, commented: “Uncertainty caused by Brexit is squeezing the profit margins at independent retailers, as consumers spend less on gifts, homeware items and clothes. You’d expect British boutiques to be tracking similar numbers to their peers across the globe, but it’s evident that they are operating in different, difficult economic and political circumstances.”

The report discovered distinctive ways that could increase loyalty among the shopping community, with 16 per cent of respondents stating they would be attracted to retailers who go plastic-free, while nine per cent would visit more often if the retailer held workshops and events in store.

Emma Bustamante, founder of Cositas, a homeware store in St Albans, said: “Brexit has been the perfect storm, and it’s meant we’ve had to take a more creative approach to retail, with innovative experiences that draw customers in.

“We’re cashing in on the experience economy, and I run furniture upcycling classes that have proved popular with environmentally, community-conscious locals looking to get more from their store visits – one of the many types of workshops we hold.”

“We also invested in an online, 3D virtual tour over the Christmas period, so potential customers could get a flavour of what their visit would entail before coming in,” said Bustamante. “Our website gained a lot of traction since implementation, with 30 per cent more traffic since Christmas and a sales increase of 24 per cent from January to June when comparing to the same period in 2018.”

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