Cardiff ranks as one of the cheapest UK cities to open a shop

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 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. 

Cardiff ranks as the 10th cheapest city to open a shop in the UK 

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

Finding premises to operate a business out of is relatively affordable in Wales’ capital compared to other UK cities with the average price of renting a commercial space in Cardiff sitting at £14,590- just a bit more than the cheapest city in the ranking Swindon. Hiring contractors is also reasonably cheap here meaning outgoings could remain low for SMEs as they set up shop, however, the cost to buy commercial space is considerably high making it one of the most expensive places to purchase a long-term business premise in the UK.

The average buying price here is  £496,667 which is considerably more than in other UK cities, in Stoke-on-Trent for example the cost to buy a premise of the same size would set a business owner back just £70,000. Whilst this could make Cardiff off-putting for businesses who are looking for long-term homes, SMEs who are looking for a short-term solution or a rental offer could find Cardiff is their perfect location. 

The table below shows the top 10 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
6 Wolverhampton N/A 11,715 N/A 24 33 20 39 36
7 Derby 225 11,633 147,500 26 29 20 38 27
8 Kingston-Upon-Hull 255 21,724 350,000 23 30 20 37 29
9 Bradford 206 10,375 213,750 26 33 22 41 15
10 Cardiff 214 14,590 496,667 27 30 23 34 27

Manchester is the cheapest city to buy a commercial space, properties here cost £446,000 more than in Cardiff 

For businesses looking to specifically buy commercial space, the research found Manchester is the most financially viable UK city, 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. This is considerably less than the average price in Cardiff and potential buyers will have to weigh up the costs that come with cheaper prices- potentially fewer customers and less demand. With the population in Stoke-on-Trent sitting at 256,127 and Cardiff’s being almost double, 485,000, businesses should consider the potential faults with buying in smaller cities. 

Overall, our research shows that there are plenty of affordable cities and towns for small business owners to open a brick-and-mortar shop in the UK with cost-effective contractor rates and fairly-priced commercial spaces in high-footfall areas, businesses should consider all options to capitalise on passing trade.

You can find the full study here: