Winchester’s independent retail offer bucks national trend

Press Release: 03/04/2014

Chris Turner, Executive Director of Winchester BID, Catherine Turness, BID Manager, and Cllr Robert Humby outside Chococo in Winchester

A new survey shows that Winchester’s independent shops are bucking the national trend and thriving in spite of difficult economic conditions.

Winchester City Council commissioned the survey from specialists the Retail Group who found that Winchester has one of the healthiest independent retail offers they have seen in the UK.

Cllr Rob Humby, Deputy Leader of Winchester City Council, said:

Winchester city centre has ridden the economic storms of recent years, with retailers queuing up for premises and vacancy rates around half the national average. However, the City Council has taken action to ensure that the independent shops which make Winchester so distinctive are able to thrive and survive, alongside the multiples and the markets.

Following discussions with retailers who have premises away from the High Street, Cllr Humby commissioned the Retail Group to assess the performance and potential of Winchester’s secondary shopping streets.

Cllr Humby added:

The Retail Group’s research findings have just been published. It is no surprise to us that their conclusions show Winchester has one of the healthiest independent retail sectors of any that they have seen across the UK. 70% of our retailers are serving more customers than they were a year ago. 56% are trading up, and a further 16% have maintained their trading performance. 26% say that their transaction values have increased and 25% are employing more staff. The ‘churn’ in businesses is also at a healthy level.

The retailers cite Winchester’s social experience – the quality of the shopping environment, the dining offer and the street markets – as key factors in bringing shoppers to the city. In fact, the consultants said that Winchester’s market was “one of the best around”.

Cllr Humby said:

The Council is proud of its role in helping to create this attractive trading environment, working with our partners at Winchester Business Improvement District (BID) and Hampshire County Council. We will not become complacent. Our next step is to produce a shared action plan, in partnership with the BID and the retailers themselves, to ensure that our speciality shopping offer goes from strength to strength – and that we learn lessons for our market towns in the process.

Independent retailers located in the Winchester Business Improvement District area are invited to a presentation and workshop led by The Retail Group, who will present their findings and invite traders to help produce the shared action plan. This will take place on Thursday 8 May from 5 to 7pm in St John’s house, Broadway in Winchester. To book your space on this workshop contact Rosanna Clayton, Assistant Directors Support Officer, at

The exciting and varied Winchester offer continues over the coming month. Shoppers can stock up on Easter treats at Winchester’s excellent range of independent sweet and chocolate shops. Children can follow the Winchester Bunny Hop trail over the Easter holidays, collecting clues from Winchester’s many independent shops along the way. The trail will start at Winchester Tourist Information Centre and end at Winchester Discovery Centre. To find out more about the Easter Bunny Trail visit Winchester’s award-winning Tourist Information Centre in Broadway or visit: