Trend to shop local could lead to opening of 17,000 stores over next year

As many as 17,000 smaller stores could open across the UK in the next 12 months as more shoppers look local as a result of the pandemic, new research suggests.

Barclays Corporate Banking said consumers were returning to physical stores with confidence since restrictions began to ease.

According to its research, 69 per cent of people say they have felt safe, or very safe, to return to the high street.

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A significant portion – 39 per cent – are planning on stepping up their in-store shopping over the coming year and 42 per cent say that it is their favourite way to shop, despite the boom in online commerce which has led to the closure of thousands of high street stores.

New research by Barclays Corporate Banking reveals that 17,000 local high street stores could open across the UK in the next 12 months as shoppers adapt to a post-lockdown world by ‘looking local’.

Barclays said the benefits are most likely to be seen in local high streets rather than in big cities. Its research shows that home and hybrid working patterns will persist into 2022 for more than a third (36 per cent) of workers in Scotland.

Almost a third of consumers (31 per cent) now say that the best way a retailer can appeal to them is to open a store in their local area.

The study reveals that 18 per cent of retail businesses in the UK with ten or more employees are eyeing community store openings, with each of them looking at five new premises on average. Cumulatively, there is potential for up to 17,000 new local stores across the UK, the bank added.

Euan Murray, relationship director and retail specialist for Barclays Corporate Banking in Scotland, said: “Our report shows how innovative UK retail businesses are looking to build back better to meet the challenges of a reshaped and revitalised retail landscape.

E-commerce has been the undisputed winner of the pandemic but not far behind are community high streets, as shoppers seek to ‘look local’ and support the stores on their doorstep. With the continuation of home working, this shows no sign of slowing down, and retailers are now looking at evaluating their store estates to meet local demand.”

Some 29 per cent of retailers are looking to entice more people back to physical stores by laying on experiences such as concerts and exhibitions.

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