Customers outside indie cafe

How indie shop owners are boosting the housing market

08 March 2023    |    By: Nathan Bentley

Let’s talk about the ‘Waitrose Effect’, a housing market phenomenon which suggests there is a positive correlation between the value of housing and its proximity to a Waitrose supermarket. This is because the existence of a Waitrose store nearby is said to encourage affluent people to the area which, in theory at least, makes it a more desirable place to live for people who can afford to do so.

Whilst it’s only a theory, this may be down to the marketing efforts of Waitrose, a supermarket which sells premium brands and high quality locally sourced ingredients which you wouldn’t typically find in other mainstream supermarkets. Waitrose is an upmarket retailer which focuses on quality, taste, ethics and value where customers are happy to spend because the brand resonates with them and their core beliefs.

This is of course all theoretical and realistically, the value of a property may increase when amenities such as supermarkets are in close proximity, as well as good transport links and convenient access to schools, hospitals and the likes.

A similar thing now seems to be happening with millennials and young first time buyers who are looking to live in areas that give them easy access to independent shops also known as ‘indie shops’. There’s a huge desire among this generation to live more sustainably, to shop locally and to be part of a thriving community and it would seem the presence of indie shops and other small businesses could be the key to that when it comes to house hunting.

‘Indie shops’, or independent shops refers to businesses which are independently owned and generally sell unique products. They may include artisan bakeries, coffee shops, vegan supermarkets, clothes shops, record shops, barbers, bike shops, craft beer pubs or restaurants – what they sell doesn’t really matter, it’s their commitment to selling quality products, sustainability and their ability to market themselves as an independently owned business that does.

A recent analysis suggests that when you combine a thriving local indie shop scene with affordable housing options, it’s creating a boom in purchases from millennials and other young people, including first time buyers who are looking to really engage with the local business community.

Indie shopper

Estate agent comparison site GetAgent has published a report which delves into the areas millennials and young people are looking to buy property, based on the volume of local, independent shops and the availability of affordable housing. In this analysis, Nottingham comes out top based on a high volume of indie shops, and average house prices 35% lower than the UK inner city average, therefore it’s a perfect storm for millennial buyers who are looking to buy a cheap property, close to businesses they can comfortably rely on.

Bristol comes out on top for indie shop volume, with an estimated count of 99 indie shops per 100,000 people, but with a 2023 average inner city house price of £471,117, offers less affordable housing than Nottingham, which is estimated to have around 53 indie shops per 100,000 people and an average inner city house price of £319,566.

Of course, these house prices aren’t representative of the wider UK housing market, but what this research does show is that the Nottingham city area has very attractive prospects for both independently owned businesses and millennial property buyers who want the luxury of being able to shop at local businesses and also get access to affordable house prices.

Other areas with a high estimated indie shop volume includes:

Edinburgh, 76 indie shops per 100,000 people.
Manchester, 59 indie shops per 100,000 people.
Sheffield, 55 indie shops per 100,000 people.
Glasgow, 57 indie shops per 100,000 people.
London, 325 indie shops per 100,000 people however the notoriously high inner city house prices make London a less desirable place for millennial home buyers.

Colby Short, co-founder of GetAgent added:

“While the Waitrose effect may have been a draw in previous years, we’re seeing more and more homebuyers value a thriving independent scene when looking to buy in a given community. Whether it be a unique nightlife, boutique stores, or independent eateries, indie shops provide a wider range and a more diverse offering when compared to big brand stores. They also encompass a greater sense of community, and this has become increasingly important to homebuyers since the pandemic, in particular. So move over Hackney, Nottingham is the nation’s best spot for hipster homebuyers when it comes to the highest proportion of indie shops and house price affordability.”

The idea of the Waitrose effect was great for Waitrose as a business, but it didn’t really boast any benefits for locally owned businesses. As a matter of fact, whilst a Waitrose in the area may boost house prices, it only adds tough competition to other shops in the local area.

Whilst the indie shop effect doesn’t claim to make property more valuable (although in general having amenities close to a property might), what it does do, is claim to make property more desirable to young people who are looking to engage with small businesses in the local area. Whilst the Waitrose effect may continue in affluent areas, what the indie shop effect might do is bring prosperity to those businesses in areas like Nottingham which have evolving and thriving local business scenes. As more property sells and more investment comes, it creates a really positive outlook for all involved in the local community, from estate agents to small business owners in the local area who are going to be inviting more new customers through their doors each year.

Nathan Bentley
Article by
Nathan is a content writer at Premierline with over 5 years’ experience, specialising in news and current affairs which impact small businesses across various industries. Nathan is passionate about discussing topics that affect the workplace, covering everything from human resources, to emerging and disruptive technologies. In the past, Nathan has written for a number of different businesses, working within a wide range of industries from financial technology to hospitality and even men’s fashion.
It is important to make sure that you have the right insurance in place to protect the business that you have built. Every business is different and has its own business insurance needs, which is why we work with some of the UK’s most well-known insurers to ensure that you are getting the right insurance cover for your business.
The information and tools contained in this guide are of a general informational nature and should not be relied upon as being suitable for any specific set of circumstances. We have used reasonable endeavours to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the contents but the information and tools do not constitute professional advice and must not be relied upon as such. To the extent permitted by law, we do not accept responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information or tools in our Insight Hub.