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The Cheapest UK Cities to Open a Shop


Nov 4, 2022 #Business, #SMEs

Online businesses became incredibly popular during the country’s various Covid-19 lockdowns, and now that the retail world has reopened its doors many of these small business owners are now considering opening their own physical stores. But how affordable is it to open a brick-and-mortar shop in the UK?

Small Business Prices has set out to explore the country’s cheapest cities to open a physical shop, based on metrics such as daily high street footfall, commercial space rental costs, and average hourly rates of contractors like plumbers and electricians. 

Swindon ranked number one overall as the most affordable place to open a shop

The analysis found that Swindon is the cheapest place overall for small business owners to open a brick-and-mortar shop in. 

Finding a premises to operate out of is relatively affordable compared to other towns and cities in the ranking, with the average price of renting a commercial space in Swindon being £14,120 per month.

Hiring builders, electricians, painter-decorators, and plumbers to get the shop in working order is also more affordable in Swindon than anywhere else the study analysed, with each of these professionals charging the lowest hourly rate for their services. 

The table below shows the top 5 cheapest UK cities and towns to open a brick-and-mortar shop:

Rank Cities Total high street footfall Avg. monthly rent for commercial spaces (£) Avg. price to buy commercial space (£) Average hourly rate for a builder (£) Average hourly rate for an electrician (£) Average hourly rate for a painter decorator (£) Average hourly rate for a plumber (£) Average hourly rate for a handyman (£)
1 Swindon 212 14,120 650,000 20 25 15 26 29
2 Plymouth 362 11,256 295,000 28 31 22 31 29
3 Stoke-on-Trent 239 6,510 70,000 24 28 21 34 20
4 Sheffield 206 9,133 185,000 30 27 19 34 23
5 Aberdeen 230 8,250 300,000 25 31 21 37 29

Manchester is the cheapest city to buy a commercial space, with the average cost being £50,000

According to the research, Manchester is the cheapest place to buy a commercial space, with the average price for a 100-1,000 square foot property being £50,000. After that, Stoke-on-Trent is the second most affordable with an average cost of £70,000, and Leicester comes third with £91,125.

You can find the full analysis, and the other findings, here: https://smallbusinessprices.co.uk/the-cheapest-uk-cities-to-open-a-brick-and-mortar-shop/ 


We analysed business costs for the 30 most populous cities across the UK to reveal the cheapest location to open a brick and mortar shop in. We have looked at the average hourly price of hiring contractors e.g builders, electricians, plumbers etc. to carry out work on the retail space per city. Where city specific data was not available, the national average was taken. 

Other metrics included high street footfall data for each city, the monthly average rent for commercial spaces and the average price to buy commercial spaces in each city. Due to the insufficiency of sample data taken to average the “buy for commercial spaces price”, we have excluded it from our final ranking. Therefore, our final ranking includes high street footfall data, average hourly price of hiring contractors and average monthly rent for commercial spaces.


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