Bristol independent shops fear for their future

Two thirds of independent retailers say they fear for their future Photo: ITV News

Parts of Bristol are famed for their wealth of independent stores and cafes. But a survey has found many people can't name a single independent retailer near their home

New research commissioned by O2 in partnership with the British Independent Retailers Association is warning that many of our independent shops will fail if they don't get more people through their doors in the next twelve months.

Leo Thompson started up Bagel Boy in the city six months ago when he spotted a gap in the market. Being able to rent a space in bustling Park Street has been good for business, particularly the student trade. But he says being independent means its difficult to compete with the big High Street names.

"People are used to these big brands and quite rightly I think you know you can go into any Starbucks shop. You know what it's going to cost you, you know what you're going to get. Whereas if you go to a new place you don't, you could spend money and it'll be rubbish. So it's important to try and make sure that every customer is satisfied so that they are going to come back. Because if not you're just going to lose them back to something that they in their opinion can trust again."

His experience is backed up by research from the British Independent Retailers Association which found a quarter of people in Bristol can't name a single independent retailer near their home.

Despite this, the report found a strong core of support amongst consumers in Bristol for going local, with a fifth visiting independent shops and cafes at least once a week.

One Bristolian told us: "I think the more people go to them, you get better service and it's a more enjoyable experience so hopefully it's cyclical and they'll get stronger and more popular."

Bristol even has its own currency now to try and boost the use of local shops.

Leo Thompson from Bagel Boy says: "I had a man who paid in Bristol pounds the other week and he said he found us because he wanted to spend his Bristol pounds. So I think it does help promotoing the independent thing around Bristol. But then there are only so many people who will do that. I don't think you an necessarily rely on the people who shop independent because they believe in it."

Bristol will always pride itself on its independent shops but a growing number are now fearing for their future as the battle for footfall continues to take its toll.