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Small, Independent Retailers: The Real Heroes Of The High Street

By Maria Hickey on June 16th, 2022

Over the past couple of decades, many towns and cities have seen a sharp decline in the high street, with many well-established big retailers being lost to history. However, despite the loss of some familiar brands, the high street is now morphing into something new.

Our traditional high streets have seen a significant shift in focus away from being packed with essential shops and services towards becoming the heart of the local community. It has become clear that local people still want to go to the high street but not necessarily use it as a place to shop.

With an explosion of hairdressers, barbers, coffee shops, tattoo parlours, vintage stores, nail bars and beauty salons, we take a look at why small independent retailers are fast becoming the heroes of a new style of high street.

How Is The UK High Street Faring?

No doubt, competing on the high street has always been challenging in the past for any small retailer. With so many big names and well-established high street brands dominating the high street for so long, it is no surprise that solo entrepreneurs were priced out because they offered no direct competition.

However, with the birth of the internet and consumer behaviours continuing to change, today’s high street offers plenty of opportunities for smaller retailers and niche traders to carve out a piece of prime retail property for themselves.

Although many people feared the high street would collapse as more customers migrated online to do their shopping, what has happened instead is businesses taking a more hybrid approach to the way they operate.

Most retailers with brick-and-mortar premises now offer their goods for sale online, making the most of physical in-store and online sales opportunities. Selling online is helping to bring in some extra income that helps support their physical retail shops so they can continue to be there for customers who prefer to shop in person.

How Important Is Great Customer Service on the High Street?

It goes without saying that the most successful high street shops will always provide good customer service. How long would their business last if they didn’t?

Customers are the lifeblood of every retail business, so you must make them feel valued so that they will continue to shop with you. When you think about any bad customer service you received in the past, did you ever return to that shop again? Probably not.

One of the biggest gripes retail consumers hold is when they are ignored at the till while the assistants continue to talk to each other. Customers prefer it when they are paid attention to, even when buying a single pair of socks or a pack of chewing gum.

Using direct eye contact and paying customers the proper attention they deserve makes them feel special and will encourage them to return and make more purchases.

Don’t forget that your customer is your best marketing tool. If they had a good experience with you, they would be more than happy to recommend you to their family and friends.

Your customers wouldn’t hesitate to tell others about bad experiences they had in town, so you want to try your best not to be part of that conversation!

Are Local Retailers The Centre of The British High Street?

Traditional high streets are now evolving to become a social centre for the local community. People can shop for a few essentials, between chatting over a coffee and a piece of cake and getting their hair or nails done.

If anything, local people desire a return to what was commonly found on the British high street of the 1950s combined with more of today’s social opportunities to linger and enjoy a bit of cafe culture.

Most people want their town’s high street to offer things that are not so easy to order online and that they can instantly grab with a trip to town, such as a good quality baker, a butchers shop, greengrocer, DIY store and some independent clothes and shoe shops. All of which could make a very lucrative business for a local retailer.

The high street has always been home to services you cannot order online, so it is no surprise that the mainstay of many high streets has been the local barbers and hairdressers, cafes and beauty salons.

However, many smart local entrepreneurs realise that most people still like to buy things in person and enjoy the conversation and personal touch that good shop workers offer when shopping in-store.

Our high streets are now moving away from being dominated by big-name faceless chain stores. Small and micro businesses are now replacing them, usually started by talented local residents with the skills and knowledge to make their shops genuinely unique.

Small local businesses are quickly becoming the beating heart of communities across the country. If managed correctly, the high street may see a return to plenty of thriving local businesses.

What Insurance Does A High Street Retailer Need in 2022?

Retail insurance is essential to protect your high street retail shop against the most common risks it faces. Some types of business insurance are necessary to have in place, such as public liability insurance and employer’s liability insurance if you employ retail staff to work in your shop.

But you will also need to think about protecting your brick-and-mortar shop from risks such as theft and vandalism. Loss of your stock to fire or flood, even from a burst pipe, can be devastating, so having stock insurance in place can give you great peace of mind.

There is no one-size-fits-all shop insurance policy that will be perfect for everyone running a high street business. A person running a hair salon will need very different insurance cover to someone running a bakery or a butcher’s shop.

Luckily, retail business insurance is highly flexible. When looking for shop insurance quotes, it can help to talk to our team at Brisco. We work with all the leading insurance providers and can find you cheap shop insurance deals that are better value than you can find by yourself.

You can compare shop insurance quotes quickly, but make sure you check the policy details before buying to make sure it covers your needs. Don’t go on price alone!

By working with our team, we can build you a policy for your shop business insurance that will perfectly meet your needs. This way, you will know you are getting the right cover to protect you, your staff and your retail business from the most common risks you face.


Local independent retailers are becoming popular because they are fast becoming the preferred choice by local communities over faceless and bland high street chain stores.

More than anything, the British high street is evolving into a place where people go to socialise and pick up the essentials they need for the next few days. People now want a more tailored shopping experience with excellent customer service that you can only get from in-person shopping on the high street.

This means that local small and micro businesses have a better chance of success on the high street than in decades, so if you have an excellent idea for a retail business, what’s stopping you from trying it?

At Brisco, we can help you compare business insurance quotes from top providers and find the policy that works best for you.

Maria Hickey

For more than 20 years, Maria has worked in the insurance sector and has extensive underwriting and customer service expertise. Maria is an experienced Senior Underwriter with a particular specialism for shop, office and surgery related insurance.

All articles by Maria Hickey

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