Last year was the worst year for UK retail on record – yet the number of independent bookshops has grown for the third year in a row.
There were 890 by the end of 2019, up on 883 the previous year. Shop owners and book enthusiasts alike are celebrating the steady growth which follows more than twenty years of decline driven by a surge in online retail and soaring high street rent prices.
Booksellers Association (BA) managing director Meryl Halls said it is now accepted that an ethical shopping trend means bookshops have “survived the Amazon firestorm”.
She added: “This is testament to the creativity, passion and hard work of our booksellers, who continue to excel in the face of challenging circumstances, particularly those wider high street challenges which so often see bookshops outperforming their high street papers.”
BA released the data showing that new members like All Good Bookshop in London’s Wood Green and the Portobello Bookshop in Edinburgh were slowly bringing independent bookshop numbers back up after a high of 1,535 in 2005.
Halls continued: “Shop local movements are definitely resurgent too. Community in a time of strife is of outsize importance, and with all the talk of healing and collaboration, that makes it more likely that people will cleave together, and want to reproduce something they may have thought they’d lost.