Independent convenience stores saw a net increase of 173 units (+3.49%) last year, surpassing the overall rate of growth for independent shops (0.18%), according to the Local Data Company.

Data released by the LDC has revealed that the net change in independents was +476 units in 2015, down on +559 units in 2014. In the UK’s top 500 town centres, independents opened the fewest number of shops since LDC records began in 2009, at an increase of +117 units (+0.11%) compared to a peak of growth of +3,949 shops (4.01%) in 2010.

However, independent c-stores grew at a relatively healthy rate last year, while tobacconists/e-cigarette shops increased at a rate of +334 (54.5% growth). In contrast newsagents declined at a rate of -180 units (-3.88%).

In terms of regions, Yorkshire and Humber showed the greatest increase of independents at +189 units , while Greater London continues to show the greatest decline of independents at -347 units (-0.51% versus -0.34% in 2014).

Analysis of town centres, shopping centres and retail parks shows that chain retailers have continued to decline with a net loss of -1,147 shops (-0.59%) in 2015 across the UK, which compares to -1,436 shops (-0.76%) in 2014.

Matthew Hopkinson, director at the Local Data Company, said: “Independents are a key component of our high streets and this is seen both in the fact they represent a majority (65%) of the units but also the diversity and vibrancy they can bring along with their direct connection to local economies.

“Whilst the numbers remain positive the dramatic decline in the growth of independents from 11 openings a day to just one a week reflects the challenges many independent businesses face. A number of factors are at play but one of the major factors has been the move of many ‘high street’ anchor retailers such as Next, M&S and River Island moving from the high street shop out of town retail parks.”