As Britain becomes a nation of clone towns suffocated by high street chain stores, Whitstable continues to shine as a champion of the independent retailer. A study by think-tank the New Economics Foundation found the seaside resort is top of the list in terms of diversity, with none of the ‘sameness' associated with most town centres. Findings showed 41 per cent of UK towns surveyed were clones of each other – where more than half the stores were chains – and 23 per cent were on the verge of becoming clones. Whitstable was one of the 36 per cent to have more than a third of its shops independent, snubbing the commonplace shopping experience seen elsewhere.
Chris West, town centre manager, said opting for this kind of business instead of the run-of-the-mill chain store was the strength of Whitstable.
"We still have retailers such as butchers and bakers along with unique shops and that's what's keeping people here," he said. "People are fed-up with clone-like towns..
"We're proud of this town. People travel 150 miles to come here just for the day or when there are events on like the Oyster Festival.
"Some say they don't even know why they come here, they just like it so much."
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