More city centre independent specialists have been forced out of business this year than last yet the mults are gaining ground.

Over 13% of butchers, bakers, greengrocers, fishmongers and newsagents in city centres shut up shop in the 12 months to the end of September compared with 10.7% the previous year, reveals the latest research from the Local Data Company, which monitors the retail landscape by walking high streets on a regular basis.

The research was carried out in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, central London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle city centres.

The overall number of retailers in the categories was up from 2,420 to 2,500 but many of the openings were from chains such as Greggs, while the closures were mainly from specialists. Independents were finding it harder to compete, said LDC business development director Matthew Hopkinson, blaming the level of closures on soaring overheads.

"A lot of retail establishments have upward-only rent reviews," he said. "Business rates have gone up and when the smaller independents have got into trouble, the banks haven't been around in the last 12 months to help them out."

In 2007, the Competition Commission inquiry into the grocery market dismissed many independent retailers' concerns and cited evidence gathered from city centres by Experian Goad demonstrating the number of indies was growing.

The Association of Convenience Stores argued at the time that looking at city centres did not paint the full picture as many indies were in local neighbourhoods, and pointed out that industry-accepted figures from IGD and Knowledge Store showed a decline in stores.

The ACS acknowledged this week that the commission would not look at the issue again. However, ACS public affairs director Shane Brennan insisted that c-stores were faring better than specialists such as butchers because they were often located outside city centres.