High street stores closing at rate of 14 a day

Irving Hamilton
November 11, 2018

As consumers move their shopping online, the British high street has suffered its largest half-year net decline in stores in five years, as the gap between openings and closures widens.

The report did also show that new stores were still opening - 1,569 of them in the same six months - but that's still an overall loss of 1,123 shops.

The PwC/LDC analysis across multiples retailers in the top 500 town centres across Great Britain covered 66,961 outlets run by retailers operating more than five outlets across the country, found that in the first half of 2018, 98 shops opened and 215 closed across Yorkshire and Humber representing a 117 outlet net reduction.

There were some bright spots, however, with supermarkets, booksellers, ice cream parlours and coffee shops all seeing slim net gains in their store counts.

She also expressed a pessimistic opinion on the future development of the high street stores.

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"The number of high-profile retail casualties in 2018 has made headline news, while the volume of distressed businesses this year has led to a spike in company voluntary arrangements (CVAs)".

"Arguably in part these latest figures reflect both; businesses which have struggled to meet consumer demand, but also conversely those operators who are actively managing and reducing their portfolios to ensure their estate remains fit for goal", Stainton added. Whereas there was a fall in the number of cafes and tearooms, fashion shops, estate agents and women's clothing, reflecting the rising customer demand for online and apps, and in-home leisure.

"Retailers of all sizes will be hoping for a strong festive trading period, but we must bear in mind that the peak time period for new CVA announcements is the first quarter of the new year, so we should brace for more high street closures in the coming months". "The high street is adapting to an overcapacity in retail and leisure space resulting from these channel shifts", said Lisa Hooker, a consumer markets leader at PwC.

"The continued rate of store closures reflects the new reality that many of us prefer to shop online and increasingly eat, drink and entertain at home".

The rate of store closures is running at 14 a day, according to PWC.

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