Consumers increasingly prefer sole traders

Monday 7 December 2015

For years, the large retailer has been king for UK shoppers. People chose supermarkets over independent shops and national chains over sole traders. However, this pendulum is swinging back around the other way as consumers are apparently more likely to visit a smaller business now.

Annual analysis from Simply Business has found that the number of independent retailers has been steadily growing over the last five years, as UK consumers change their shopping trends. In addition, it is more likely for people to go to sole traders for services as well as for goods.

In total, the number of independent traders in the UK has risen by 110 per cent over the last five years. This has been the case for a range of professions, with the number of independent hairdressers rising by 79 per cent and manicurists by 115 per cent. Domestic cleaners increased by 118 per cent and independent builders by 86 per cent.

Even the high street, traditionally the home of the UK's largest brands and multinational chains, has been reclaimed by smaller businesses. The data shows that the number of sole traders operating on UK high streets has risen, especially in the north-west where it increased by 89 per cent over the last five years.

This news comes at a good time, as the third annual Small Business Saturday initiative was just held on December 5th. Sole traders are being encouraged to promote their businesses in a number of ways, from inviting MPs to visit the premises to hosting events or workshops. Last year, the event saw 16.5 million people heading out to support the campaign, and it is hoped that this year's total will surpass that.

Michelle Ovens, Small Business Saturday's national campaign director, said: "The Small Business Saturday campaign plays a valuable role in focusing the minds of consumers and business people on what small businesses in any sector or line of business can offer in terms of range of products and services, and levels of customer service.”

Hopefully, this initiative will help add to this increase in the number of sole traders as more and more consumers in the UK become aware of what a smaller business can offer. Independent companies take up a vital spot in the UK economy and are often a focal point for local communities, so it is good to see them celebrated and utilised by the general public.

By Victoria McDonnell

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