High street stores closing at rate of 14 a day

Almost 2,700 high street stores closed in the first six months of the year and embattled retailers struggle to keep going, according to a new study.

Figures released today by PwC show an average of 14 high street stores closed a day during the first half of the year, with a total of 2,692 closing their doors for good.

The survey also found 1,569 shops opened during the same time period, meaning a net 1,123 stores disappeared from Britain’s top 500 high streets.

Several high street chains have gone under this year, including the electrical supplier Maplin.

Restaurant, catering and entertainment chains saw a net loss of 340 stores after net rises the two previous years.

Jamie’s Italian, Prezzo and Strada have all closed restaurants as well.

‘Our latest research highlights the challenges facing the retail and leisure sectors on Britain’s high streets,’ said consumer markets leader at PwC, Lisa Hooker.

‘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 high street is adapting to an overcapacity in retail and leisure space resulting from these channel shifts,’ added Ms Hooker.

‘Openings simply aren’t replacing the closures at a fast-enough rate. Specifically, the openings across ‘experiential’ chains, such as ice cream parlours, beauty salons and vape shops, haven’t been enough to offset closures in the more traditional categories.

‘Looking ahead, the turmoil facing the sector is unlikely to abate. Store closures already announced in the second half of the year due to administrations and CVAs already will further intensify the situation.’

Earlier this week, communities secretary James Brokenshire launched the Government’s flagship Open Doors project, which will link landlords with vacant retail units with community groups offering vital services to young and old.

Zelf Hussain, retail restructuring partner at PwC, added: ‘The transformation of the UK high street – both physical and virtual – raises questions about how legacy retailers and leisure operators should restructure and what new investment is needed. However, the intensity of the current climate means those questions often require immediate answers.

‘The number of distressed businesses in 2018 has led to a spike in company voluntary arrangements. We believe that CVAs can be helpful restructuring tools, but alone are insufficient. Our own research of more than 101,710 companies listed on Company House shows that of the 65 retailers entering into a CVA between 1987 and 2017 more than half (51%) failed, leading to another insolvency process.’

Jamie Hailstone
Senior reporter - NewStart


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