Specialist hobby stores are regaining popularity, with hairdressers, beauticians and bakers also on the increase
JJB Sports is not alone in its troubles. Independent sports shops are also disappearing from Britain’s high streets while specialist hobby stores selling craft materials and musical instruments and old fashioned sweet shops are making a comeback.
The number of sports shops has declined 5% in the past year, according to a study by Simply Business, which specialises in insuring independent stores. The figures, based on a sample of 30,000 shops, show an army of hairdressers, beauticians and bakers on the march but a significant number of pub, sandwich bar and fashion shop owners in retreat.
The economic downturn has resulted in fewer shoppers visiting the high street and a sharp rise in store vacancies. But Simply Business chief executive Jason Stockwood said the changes suggested retailers were heeding the advice of “high street tsar” Mary Portas to “create experiences different to the ones consumers can get online or in shopping malls”.
To that end the number of wine bars rose 13% and tea rooms by 9%. Traditional sweetshops increased 15%. Local butchers and bakeries also enjoyed a revival, up 21% and 17% respectively, suggesting shoppers go to specialist outlets rather than supermarkets for certain purchases.
The findings also show independent retailers catering for recession-conscious Britons, with an increase in the number of shops dedicated to “make it yourself” purchases. Fabric shops are up 44% and home baking outlets by 50%, while the number of art and craft shops jumped 29%.