Raft of entrepreneurs setting up shop could save struggling high streets, study finds

Britain's struggling high streets could be rescued by a raft of new entrepreneurs, research has found.

A fifth of people who say they plan to set up a business aim to open a shop within two years, a Sage UK study called Entrepreneurial Britain found.

The business software and services company did the work as part of its Discover Your Business Potential scheme, using YouGov to speak to 3,320 people and get a detailed analysis.

The study looked at how many entrepreneurs are looking at setting up new ventures, the types of business they plan and where they will base them. Retail came out on top as the most popular, Sage said.

Just under half the business people asked said they wanted a shop or office for their venture, which could be a significant boost to high streets across the country that have seen shops closing - at a peak rate of 14 a day in 2011.

Lee Perkins - Sage's small business division managing director - said entrepreneurs have seen online firms such as Facebook and Amazon succeed without having a high street presence but they are "still drawn to bricks as much as clicks" in their ventures.

The research showed that even young business hopefuls wanted a physical presence - as 52% of all those questioned in the 18-24 group wanted to start their venture in a shop.

Mr Perkins said there was "hope for the UK high street" and wondered if there could be a Mary Portas effect at work. The retail consultant has been on the TV screens of Britain revamping struggling stores.

He said: "Everyone has business potential and it is encouraging to see so many people set to launch a new venture in the next couple of years."

The research suggests the effect of these new businesses will make British high streets look significantly different, with ventures such as vintage clothing outlets and boutique bakeries planned. As the new ventures take root, they are likely to offer a boost to jobs and employment too.

The North East looks to have been worst hit by shop closures, with research showing 15% of retail outlets have closed, but things could be looking up as Sage's study says the region has more people looking at starting a venture than other areas.

Copyright Press Association 2012