Wine and book shops in sync

The number of independent wine merchants and independent book shops appears to be settling into some sort of correlation, after years of growth in one sector and decline in the other.

According to The Booksellers Association, there are 883 independent book shops. The Wine Merchant calculates there are 912 specialist independent wine retailers, many of which thrive in the sort of locations that also sustain small book shops.

In 1995 there were 1,894 independent book shops, according to the BA, a figure that had almost halved, to 987, by 2013. But since 2015 numbers have seen a modest recovery, and the trade body is confident that the industry has stabilised despite an “increasingly challenging landscape” characterised by “unequal business rates, unfair competition from online retailers and post-Brexit uncertainty”.

It is calling for the Government to “take the steps needed to protect the future of book shops and their high streets”.

Meanwhile the number of independent record shops is also on the rise, according to the Entertainment Retailers Association.

It reports that store numbers now stand at 425, with the Record Store Day initiative having a positive effect on the sector.

This article appears in the June edition of The Wine Merchant.