New research looking at the top UK towns and cities for independent shopping has revealed that an area of Lancashire is one of the best places to find a number of independent shops. 

Analysis by South Western Railway reveals Preston is the ninth best place for independent shopping in the UK. 

Cambridge has the most independent shops per person in the research, followed by Brighton and Hove and York, while cycling, literary and food and drink are the strongest independent sectors in the UK

Google searches for ‘independent bookstores’ has increased 376 per cent from 2018 to 2022, and ‘independent bike shop’ has increased by 270 per cent.

And despite many challenging years for the UK high street and retail landscape, new research shows that Brits’ love for shopping independently has prevailed.

To champion shopping independently, South Western Railway analysed the number of independent shops in each town and city according to Indie Retail, and compared this against population figures to reveal where in the UK has the highest number of independent retailers per 100,000 people.

Top 10 towns and cities with the highest volume of independent shops from left to right reads: rank; location; no. of independent retailers per 100K people

1; Cambridge; 35

2; Brighton and Hove; 24

3; York; 22

4; Norwich; 18

5; Exeter; 17

5=; Bristol; 17

7; Cheltenham; 16

8; Bath; 15

9; Ipswich; 14

9=; Preston; 14

Taking the top spot for independent shopping is Cambridge, celebrating 35 independent retailers per 100,000 people.

Brighton and Hove is the second biggest independent capital with 24 independent shops per 100,000 people. 

York comes in at number three, with 22 indie shops per 100,00 people. 

Preston ties ninth place with Ipswich celebrating 14 independent retailers per 100,000 people. 

Head of Marketing at South Western Railway, Calli Ward, said: “Nothing beats getting to know a city through the businesses and people that make it what it is.

"Being able to give back by supporting small, independent retailers is so important, no matter where you are in the UK.

“Whether you are visiting a new place, or discovering local gems, consider grabbing your next coffee, next gift for a friend, or new bike gear from an indie shop.

"There are plenty across the UK offering bespoke, independent shopping experiences who would no doubt appreciate your custom.” 

Full research can be found here.