A nation of animal lovers: The changing face of the UK High Street

Growth in independent businesses like vegetarian restaurants and coffee shops reflect new habits of changing demographics

UK, May 16, 2022: The changing priorities and consumer habits of the UK can be seen in our ever-evolving high streets, new analysis from Experian reveals.

Charting changes of more than 2,000 retail locations, the analysis provides an in-depth snapshot of how the country’s shopping streets have changed to meet evolving consumer habits.

Reflecting our love of animals, especially since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of dog groomers grew by 154%, and vets by 17%.

What we prioritise in our lives has driven change. Vegetarian restaurants (117%), coffee shops (20%), micro-breweries (19%) and cafes (18%), have all seen significant growth since 2015, illustrating the preferences of young consumers and families who value independent shops and view the high street as a destination hub to socialise.

In a nod to our ageing population, there has also been a substantial increase in the number of shops offering hearing aids (221%).

The acceleration in e-commerce has, inevitably, also had a significant impact on the nature of shops opening and closing. Previous Experian analysis found online retail sales experienced four years’ of expected growth in just 12 months, and the rise of warehouse space (124%) reflects the growth of logistics and delivery firms.

With many people now doing their banking online or via their mobile phone, the number of bank branches has fallen by 30%. Both women’s (-47%) and men’s (-26%) clothing shops have seen large declines since 2015, while retailers specialising in electronics has fallen by 53%.

The rise of booking holidays online has seen the number of travel agents fall by 15%, and with those who like a flutter now likely to do so digitally, the number of bookmakers has also fallen by nearly a fifth (-19%).

Colin Grieves, managing director, Experian Marketing Services, said: “Demographic changes are inspiring businesses to cater to new, evolving consumer demands and habits.

 “People are valuing their high street as a place to socialise and enjoy, rather than just shop for essentials, prioritising independents stores. For example, the growth in micro-breweries and the craft beer industry bucks the trend against the wider pub sector, while the popularity of niche restaurants points towards a new health-conscious consumer.

 “For retail developers and planners, understanding these changes mean they can better evaluate their proposed locations for development, ensuring they meet the demands of the local community. Our world is evolving all the time and data analysis is crucial in informing these decisions and creating new businesses which can thrive in our shopping areas.”

The changes to shopping districts can also be seen to be driven by flexible working, with many employees now working from home for at least a couple of days a week, and now spending more of their disposable income locally, rather than around their city-based office location.



Analysis based on insights from retail property database, Experian Goad 2015 - 2022 Experian Goad helps retail developers, investors, planning professionals, and commercial agents to identify suitable locations for retail property development and investment projects.


Top 5 Growth Shops



Hearing Aids


Dog Groomers




Sport Clubs


Coffee Shops




Top 5 Decline Shops





Women’s Clothing




Men’s Clothing





Media contact:

Robert Goodman, PR Manager, Corporate & Business, UK&I, Experian

Tel: +44 7989 398 498 / Email: Robert.Goodman@Experian.com


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