Independent retailers are powering the recovery, new data shows


According to data from Ankorstore, the curated marketplace connecting independent brands with local retailers, the economic disruption caused by the pandemic has inspired a wave of entrepreneurial independent retail businesses. Over the last six months, more than 10,000 independent retailers were trading in the UK.

The most recent data from the British Retail Consortium from June, show a resurgence for UK retail with sales increasing 13.1% on a like-for-like basis with June 2019.

Analysis of British independent retail habits during the pandemic from Ankorstore’s platform also reflects the buoyancy of the UK retail market as consumer confidence increases emerging from pandemic closures. The number of UK independent retailers joining the platform increased significantly over the last six months with one in five independent retailers in Europe registering to Ankorstore now based in the UK.

This is also a nationwide trend, with analysis of Ankorstore’s database of 10,000 independent businesses showing that 87% are based outside of London in cities and regions across the country.

These independent retailers and brands are small and medium sized businesses of which 38% are sole traders, many of which have been established during the pandemic.      

Closer analysis of these independent brands suggests fashion and paper goods are the two most popular retail specialisms in the UK. 

Paper goods is the most popular product category for independent British retailers. One in ten independent retailers registering to the platform over the last six months is focused on selling paper goods such as books and stationery, while the BRC reports increased like-for-like sales for stationery in 2021 compared with 2019. Books and stationery are coming back especially strong in the last year after initially being the sector most impacted by the rise of online retailers such as Amazon. Ankorstore believes this is a trend we will see across other sectors which are seeing new growth after the pandemic.

22% of the UK brands registered to Ankorstore are fashion businesses, while jewellery accounts for 8% of all products sold on the platform in the UK. This fits well with the latest BRC trends where Clothing and Footwear saw growth for the second month in a row in May while Jewellery & Watches ranked as the third best performing category as consumers begin to socialise again. 

Some of the most successful independent brands using Ankorstore in the UK include umbrella retailer Original Duckhead, gift wholesaler Luckies of London and art and illustration shop David Shrigley. 

Mark Williams, Director at Brainbox Candy, commented: “Since launching two years ago, our collaboration with iconic artist David Shrigley has been a fantastic success with retailers, galleries and museums all over the world. In particular, we have been pleasantly surprised by how many new customers we attracted via Ankorstore. The free shipping and 60-day terms offered on the platform have also encouraged many of our existing customers to purchase through Ankorstore, which is helping us deliver an even better service.”

Pierre-Louis Lacoste, co-founder of Ankorstore, concluded, “The data suggests that during the pandemic the UK has seen an extraordinary rise in entrepreneurs and family businesses turning to online tools to power their business – spanning online and traditional brick and mortar. Some people lament the death of the High Street but what we see is the evolution of retail, with a new generation of highly innovative small businesses turning to online platforms to reduce costs and create a better in store experience. After the challenges of the last 12 months, my hope is that the pandemic inspires a golden era for independent British retail and an economic recovery based on the UK’s creative entrepreneurial spirit.”