Research reveals Ipswich among the best place in UK for independent shops

Ipswich independent retailers respond to new research

Independent shop owners Angela Ajadi, Claire Moore and Josh Byworth said there were challenges that faced local retailers. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

A trio of new Ipswich businesses are celebrating the town's status as one of the best places for independent shopping and shared the challenges local retailers are still facing. 

Ipswich is ranked the ninth best place for independent shopping in the new research by South Western Railway, based on the number of independent retailers against a population of 100,000 people. 

Under the ranking, Ipswich has 14 independent retailers per 100,000 people, just behind Cheltenham and Bath with 16 and 15 independent shops. 

Top 10 cities map

Top 10 cities map - Credit: South Western Railway

Business leaders have been celebrating new leisure and entertainment offerings in the "evolving" town centre as the high street navigates the impact of the pandemic.

Three traders that have opened in the last year say one challenge for new independent stores is the costs of rates, location and advertising to raise their profile with shoppers. 

Claire Moore at her new shop, Cakes and Bakes with Lacey Grace, at Ipswich.

Claire Moore at her new shop, Cakes and Bakes with Lacey Grace, at Ipswich. - Credit: Archant 2022

Claire Moore, of Cakes & Bakes by Lacey Grace, opened in the Microshops last month which supports many traders. 

She said footfall was "very up and down" as Carr Street was not seen as the main high street.

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She said: "It was quite easy for me to open the business in the Microshops but it is not so easy getting your own shop.

"There should be more advertising of Microshops, directing people to Carr Street, not just Tavern Street.

"Permanent outdoor market stalls are another good idea, that works well in other towns.” 

Josh Byworth, the owner of Essential Vintage

Josh Byworth, the owner of Essential Vintage - Credit: Josh Byworth

Josh Byworth, the owner of Essential Vintage clothing shop, said discounted rents would help local businesses. 

He said: "It would help local businesses if there was discounted rents for X amount of the year to start with. Rather than seeing empty shops everywhere.

“I put everything I’ve got into my shop. Also borrowing money to get started. There wasn’t any help loan or grants that fitted me. 

“But I am very optimistic I can make this work and be a destination shop for Ipswich.” 

Angela Ajadi, the owner of nTouragE, in the Sailmakers, said the town had seen many shop closures and needed to become more vibrant.

She said: “We have to create reasons for people to come to the town centre again. 

"We are still struggling after eight months in the business because people don’t know about our shop as we don’t have the budget for advertising.” 

Cambridge was ranked the highest, with 35 shops per 100,000 people. Norwich was placed fourth, just after Brighton and Hove and York, with 18 independent retailers per 100,000 residents. 

Calli Ward, head of marketing at South Western Railway, said: “Nothing beats getting to know a city through the businesses and people that make it what it is. Being able to give back by supporting small, independent retailers is so important, no matter where you are in the UK.” 

Cycling turned out to be the strongest sector in Ipswich, closely followed by food and drink establishments and clothing shops.  

Local residents search in Google for ‘independent book shops near me’, as the number has grown by 233% in the area since 2018 and 'independent record shop’ which also increased by 150%.