Tattoo Parlours Buzz With High Street Growth
Tattoo parlours have become the big growth sector in Britain's town centres, according to research data.
The Local Data Company (LDC) said that as of last week, the number of shops ringing to the buzz of the tattoo gun has reached a total of 1,014 in the top 650 British towns.
That figure was up more than 4.5% from its 2013 research, which showed there were 970 parlours in the town centres.
LDC said that between 2009 and 2013, the growth rate of tattoo parlours in the town centres topped 141%.
In comparison, it said in the same period charity shops expanded by a rate of 36%, to 5,010 outlets.
Betting shops increased by 32% to 2,943 and chain coffee stores by 29% to 1,981.
The number of people going under the needle in the name of art has increased significantly in the last two decades.
Fulham Tattoo Centre artist Steli Pop, who works at a parlour established more than 30 years ago, told Sky News: "Celebrities and footballers have helped attract people.
"It doesn't matter so much about your social place now, whereas years ago it was only the bad and sailors who got them."
Skin art has also become a favourite pursuit for some urban-dwelling, counter-culture 'hipsters'.
But the growth in parlours may be halted with a return to health of the high street.
LDC director Matthew Hopkinson told Sky News: "My views are that the rise in these business types reflects the significant changes taking place where large retailers such as Woolworths with over 800 shops have left the high street and others such as Arcadia and many others are reducing the number of shops they have.
"This results in a large oversupply of empty shops as reflected by the rise in vacancy rates, which results in greater opportunity at much lower costs for these alternative high street uses to occupy town centres and at a significantly cheaper cost than pre-2008.
Mr Hopkinson added: "An unknown question going forward is that if and when there is a business rates revaluation and stock levels reduce as shops are made into alternative uses then the profitability and therefore occupancy levels of these business types might change rapidly."
Mr Pop added: "Eventually the lower end of the market could struggle.
"Some of them don't make a lot of money, they aren't good artists or businesspeople and are notorious for copying designs straight off the internet."