The best place to start a business in the UK

By Sam Iontton04/07/2022

the best place to start a business in the UK

If you’re looking to start a business in the UK, location should be at the very top of your priority list. Setting up in a town with slow or inconsistent trade can be a death sentence for a small business that is in its early days, especially if funds are tight. We know that setting up shop is harder than it ever has been but that doesn’t mean you should give up on the idea entirely.

At Displaysense, we know how important it is to pick the very best location for your business so that you can watch it thrive. We decided to conduct a study into where the best place is to start a business in the UK so that you don’t have to go into your next venture blindly.

A winning formula?

Before you dive into our research, you need to be aware that there is no set winning formula. For examples, if we take everything we’ve learnt, setting up a textiles or clothing business in Plymouth or Blackpool could be your key to success. But with years of experience in the retail sector, we know it’s not that simple.

When thinking of starting a business, there are loads more factors to consider.

Many of these are unique to each business, but when considering location, you need to think about:

factors to consider when starting a business

  1. Rent Prices- prices for renting a retail unit can be very high, especially in more desirable spots.
  2. Footfall- what’s the use in opening a shop when there is no footfall? Having a steady stream of footfall is vital for any retail business's success.
  3. Demographics- this greatly depends on the kind of shop you are opening. You need to consider whether the demographic of the area you want to open in matches your target audience, especially when it comes down to the price tag of your products. Opening a high-end boutique in an area where disposable income is lower than average is setting yourself up for failure.
  4. Uniqueness- is your product in demand in this area? If there are several shops selling the same products as you in close proximity, the market might be too flooded.

20 places with the most profit potential

Based on our data for footfall and Gross Disposable Household Income (GDHI) per head, these are the top 20 places that have the highest profit potential.

20 places with the most profit potential

list ranking the 20 places with the most profit potential

It’s important to note that although locations like Blackpool thrive in the summer because of holiday goers, they tend to see a downturn in custom over the autumn and winter months.

Footfall index data from Centre for Cities highstreet recovery tracker, with a baseline of 100

The most affordable areas

If your budget is tight, you will want to look at areas with lower retail rents. Of the top 20, these areas are the most affordable to rent in (per sqm2).

The most affordable areas

ranked list of the most affordable areas

The following areas charge higher rates. In cities like York (which is the most popular city in the UK) retail units are very difficult to come by, but the payoff is great.

Areas with the highest charges for businesses renting

*Method for the best value for money by SQM - scraped data from first page of Zoopla by town and most popular filter, worked out averages

Business sectors that perform the best

When it comes to retail, there will always be some sectors that perform better than others.

In 2019, all retailers in the UK made £393.739 billion in sales.

Business sectors that perform the best

These sales are split across several sectors.