UK retail sales hit a record-breaking high in 2014 of around £324 billion, according to the latest figures released by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Sales and promotions helped increase purchases considerably with the adopted US discount day Black Friday boosting November spending by 5.2%. Small Business Saturday on December 6th continued a successful trend into its second year with an estimated 16 million shoppers stepping out to support small local businesses in their communities and online.

Across the UK, this popular initiative brought in an extra £504 million for hard working retailers and other SMEs, overtaking the first Small Business Saturday total in 2013 by £36 million.

Other positive signs of a healthier high street were clear from employment figures showing that Britain’s booming retail sector currently provides in the region of 3 million jobs and 90,000 apprenticeships; employing 10% of the UK workforce.

Business Minister Matthew Hancock said: “The return of the high street is fantastic news and goes to show that we are on course for prosperity. More business are starting up, thriving and creating jobs for people.

“The rise of independent retailers is testament to the wave of entrepreneurialism sweeping the UK as part of our strong economic recovery.”

What’s on the cards for small retailers in 2015?

Shops and businesses on the high street welcomed the prospect of a review into the burdensome business rates system, following a pledge by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne during his pre-budget Autumn Statement in early December.

Commenting on the current confident climate, Helen Dickinson, Director General of the British Retail Consortium, believes now is the time for entrepreneurs to enter the retail market.

She said:  “The incredibly competitive nature of the retail industry means that there are always great opportunities to start up a business.

“With the meteoric rise of internet shopping (£1 in every £5 spent on non-food items is now spent online), barriers to entry in retailing are lower than ever.”

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