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Fresh cuts: Barbers lead the way as independent retailers reinvigorate high streets


Indie beauty and grooming services are giving British high streets a glow up, according to new data analysed by SME Insurer, Superscript

The data, sourced from Local Data Company, has identified the UK’s top growing independent retail categories on our high streets:

Category 2022 Net Units 5 Year Net Unit Change (2017-2022)
Barbers 15711 +3547
Beauty Salons 10459 +2194
Convenience Stores 9020 +1309
Cafes & Tearooms 19024 +1077
Nail Salons 4129 +952

Table: Top 5 growing independent retail categories across GB by net change in units, 2017-2022 (Source: Local Data Company)

In a survey of 1,500 shoppers by Superscript, over half of Brits claim to be more likely to visit a health and beauty shop on the high street than any other type of independent retailer; while 1 in 4 confirmed that hairdressers, barbers and salons will continue to bring them to the high street despite the rising costs of living.

Anthony Copeland, Co-founder of British Master Barbers, adds, “The barbering industry has bounced back post Covid. Uniquely, the relationship a man has with his barber can run deep and be long-standing. We can see a client once a month for years, seeing them grow from boy to man, from son, to father and grandfather.

Even with the incredible pressures we are all facing financially we predict the growth of barber shops will continue, simply because men will continue to visit barbers.  For a relatively low cost they can feel pampered, listened to and leave the chair feeling confident with a fresh look.”

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In agreement, 1 in 5 reveal they like to prioritise their spare cash on looking and feeling good. Meanwhile, a sense of loyalty to hairdressers, barbers and beauty therapists (37%), and the ability to catch up and have a chat (33%) rank most highly in reasons these shops are growing so much in popularity.

It seems the connection and social aspect of visiting beauty and grooming services is bringing a sense of community back to the high street, with Brits wishing to be made to feel welcome (51%) and preferring to get to know staff on a personal level (43%) when they shop. This comes as 65% of shoppers state that independent retailers have made their local area feel more like a community.

Cameron Shearer, CEO at Superscript, comments, “Local independent retailers are the future of our high streets. Our study found that, despite the increasing cost of living, 66% of Brits are continuing to go to the high street primarily to support local business owners. This suggests that the longevity and future of the high street depends on the human connection that retailers can foster with the public. This is why local independents – like barbershops and beauty salons – are best placed to thrive, while chain department stores will have to find other ways to appeal.” 

The commitment deepens, as 92% of Brits admit they are keen to support independent retailers by backing government and council initiatives such as rent subsidiaries, tax relief, and low interest-rate business loans. Currently, eligible small and medium businesses can apply for business rates relief for their property through the government’s £1.7 billion 2022/23 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Relief Scheme.

To find out more about which independents are reinvigorating our highstreets, please visit:


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