Research commissioned by American Express Shop Small reveals the top 10 high streets for independent shops in the UK, shining a light on the nation’s small businesses that play such an important role in their local communities.

The research, carried out with retail experts GlobalData, identified the bustling Victoria Street and West Bow in Edinburgh, The Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells and Llandeilo, in South Wales as home to some of the UK’s best high streets for shoppers wanting to visit and support independent businesses.

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The top 10 high streets for independent shops in the UK:

  1. Victoria Street & West Bow, Edinburgh
  2. High Street, Stockbridge
  3. The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells
  4. Church Street, Hereford
  5. Broadway, Cotswolds
  6. Town Centre 2, Petworth
  7. High Street, Burford
  8. Magdalene Street, Cambridge
  9. The Lanes, Brighton
  10. Town Centre 3, Llandeilo

The top 10 high streets were identified by ranking factors such as the streets with the highest proportion of independent outlets and included other key factors such as variety of business types, number of visitors, and shop occupancy rate.

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Whether it’s the small shops of Stockbridge or Llandeilo, or the thousands of independents up and down the UK’s high streets; between 1 – 3 December, American Express is incentivising people to support their local small businesses through its Shop Small Offer, which gives American Express Cardmembers® a £5 statement credit when they spend £15 or more at participating small businesses.

The Shop Small offer will go live on the eve of Small Business Saturday, of which American Express is founder and principal supporter.  Taking place on 2 December this year, Small Business Saturday is a grassroots campaign which encourages people to shop at local independents and is the UK’s most successful small business campaign engaging millions of shoppers every year. In 2022 shoppers spent an estimated £774m in small businesses nationwide on Small Business Saturday.

Dan Edelman, VP & UK General Manager, Merchant Services at American Express, said: “We know how vital independent businesses are to all our communities, so it’s great to once again hero high streets during this crucial trading time through our Shop Small campaign. With everything from grocery stores, bespoke gift shops and pet stores, there’s something for everyone, and now is the time for people to step out and support the small local businesses on their doorstep.”

Michelle Ovens, Director of Small Business Saturday added: “Small businesses are at the heart of communities and play a fundamental role in the spirit and culture of our high streets. They bring innovation, character and charm to our town centres, but also are a critical part of local infrastructure, supporting education, health and mental health. They support local supply chains and services and are increasingly having a positive impact on sustainability. A strong local small business community leads to a strong and vibrant place to live and work. We should do all we can to support these businesses on Small Business Saturday and beyond to ensure they survive and thrive.”

Matt Piner, Research Director at GlobalData commented on the findings: Despite the challenges small businesses have faced over the past decade, this research shows that a wonderfully diverse array of small businesses remain prominent on high streets across the UK. These small businesses have endured by offering a broad range of services which meet consumer demands, continually evolving in a nimble and agile fashion, and offering a personal touch.”  

A separate survey of independent retail and hospitality business owners, by American Express and Small Business Saturday, also highlighted the importance of the upcoming festive season with 86% stating that the festive period is a vital revenue driver for their business. When asked what they might do differently this year compared to 2022, nearly half (49%) are creating in-store events to drive customer footfall, with a similar number (48%) introducing exclusive products or services just for the festive period.

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