Although often attributed to Napoleon, it was economist Adam Smith who first coined the phrase ‘a nation of shopkeepers’ in relation to the UK. The survey suggests that this epithet might still apply, with retail the most popular sector when people were asked ‘if you were to start your own business tomorrow, which sector would you go into?’.
While much media attention is given to the trials and tribulations of big retail chains, recent years have seen independent stores open up to fill the spaces they left.
A study from the Local Data Company (LDC) and British Independent Retailers Associations (Bira) showed that independent stores increased 15 per cent in 2016 across 500 British town centres – which meant an overall rise of 36 per cent from 2015.
Director at the Local Data Company, Matthew Hopkinson, told the Fashion United website: “Independents are becoming ever more important to our high streets. Year by year, the net gain of small businesses is accelerating, even as the net loss of chain stores increases. They are changing the face of our towns as well, as barbers and bars replace clothing shops and newsagents, with service and leisure gradually substituting for comparison shops.”
Not only is retail popular, but so too is going into business with a friend or family member, with 52.4% saying they would rather do this than ‘go it alone’. However, the stats show a gender split on this issue. In total, 56.9% of women say they would choose to start a business with a friend or family member but only 47.7% of men said they would. In fact, slightly more men (50.9%) would rather set up a business by themselves. There’s also an age split here, with 64.9% of people aged 16-24 saying they would set up a business with a friend or family member, compared to 41.3% of 35-44s.