High street shop closures hit record levels

An average of 16 high street stores a day closed during the first half of 2019, according to a new study.

Figures released today (11 September) by PwC and the Local Data Company show a net decline of 1,234 chain stores on Britain’s top 500 high streets during the first six months of the year.

This is the highest number since analysis by PwC and the Local Data Company began in 2010 and it comes at a time when many high street shops are struggling against competition from online retailers and out-of-town retail centres.

The first half of 2019 saw almost twice as many store closures (16 per day) as openings (9 per day).

In total, 1,634 stores opened and 2,868 stores closed over the period, leading to a net decline of 1,234 stores, compared with a net decline of 1,123 in the same period last year.

The biggest net declines were seen amongst fashion retailers (-118), restaurants (-103), estate agents (-100) and pubs (-96).

‘The record net decline in store numbers in the first half of 2019 shows that there’s been no let-up in the changing ways that people shop and the cost pressures affecting high street operators,’ said PwC’s consumer markets leader, Lisa Hooker.

‘While retailers need to keep investing to make sure their stores and propositions are relevant to today’s consumers, it’s also critical that all stakeholders find ways to ease the burden on operators, keep investing in the high street, and encourage new and different types of operators to fill vacant space.

‘The good news is that there are green shoots, as new entrants are entering even embattled sectors such as fashion. Our research tells us that consumers still want to spend their money in well located and invested stores and leisure venues on the high street,’ she added.

The Local Data Company’s head of retail and strategic partnerships, Lucy Stainton, added: ‘One of the most striking things about this latest Local Data Company and PWC analysis is the level of market churn identified in such a short space of time. Whilst the overall net change number, a loss of 1,234 occupied units in only six months, is certainly significant, the level of openings and closures activity beneath this is hugely notable as the industry continues to re-set.

‘In our experience, retailers are being that much more cautious and risk averse as far as both planning for new store openings and in making decisions across their existing property portfolios.

‘The reality is that UK retail space will continue to look very different over the coming years, and this is demonstrated by the sheer number of stores opening and closing on an ongoing basis.’

Photo Credit – Free-Photos (Pixabay)



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Tony Hutchinson
Tony Hutchinson
4 years ago

Almost everything we do has changed over the last 20 years with digital technology. Retailing cannot be insulated from the process of change and its consequences.
For High Streets to be successful there needs to be a compelling reason for people to go them, then spend time and money there. Too many places are bland, interchangeable and dominated by traffic. Yes, people need to be able to access retail areas, but once in a car why go to say Northampton when Milton Keynes is only a few miles further and provides a better experience? There are many dimensions to what makes a successful High Street: looking back to a different time is probably not the way forward. More appropriate is to identify successful places and then find how their DNA can be cloned.

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