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Growth of independent shops allays high street fears 1 March 2012

More shops and leisure outlets opened their doors than were forced to close last year in Great Britain, a retail report has found.

Fears surrounding the health of the high street have been marginally allayed after the study found overall store openings eclipsed closures by 2,564.

The total for new openings stood at 20,327 – fuelled by the growth of independent stores – ahead of 17,937 shop closures, reported the Local Data Company.

Independents opened three times as many stores (15,233) as their chain rivals (5,094) fuelling hope the reported death of the high street may be premature.

Overall, multiple chains declined by 174 units in the 500 town centres studied by the company.

The sectors which grew the most were within convenience and service retail while comparison goods retailers were the hardest hit.

Commenting on the figures a spokesperson for the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said: “These latest figures further expose the myth that when times are difficult its only multi retailers that can thrive.

“On the contrary independents are perfectly capable of doing well where they provide what customers are looking for.

“But the number of retail businesses which are failing clearly does remain a concern.”

It comes after a separate report published by the BRC found consumer confidence had plummeted down to levels last since during the 2008 recession.

Last year and the early part of 2012 has been regarded as a difficult period for retailers with the likes of Peackocks, La Senza and Blacks Leisure all falling into administration.

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