Sep 11, 2019
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UK store closures rise, fashion has big impact - LDC report

Sep 11, 2019

The crisis on the UK’s high streets is accelerating with the number of shops that are empty (as well as pubs and restaurants that also help attract shoppers to an area) rising faster than it has for around a decade.

UK store closures have accelerated - Image: Tim Mossholder

In the first half of this year, around 16 stores a day were closed, while nine were opened. That meant a net decline of 1,234 chain stores on the top 500 high streets in the UK.

That’s according to analysis from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and specialist researcher the Local Data Company (LDC).

The figures exclude independent stores and given the anecdotal evidence on this front, it paints a bleak picture of UK high streets.

The number of net closures was also high in the same period last year (at 1,123), and that was also a sharp acceleration, the drop having been only 222 in the previous period in 2017. But the 2019 decline is the highest since LDC started tracking the numbers back in 2010.

The decline has come as some retailers have gone under and others have reduced their store numbers as a survival strategy, the closures often facilitated by CVAs. 

But in addition to stores lying empty, there’s a bigger cost with retail landlords seeing major dents in their income and large numbers of job losses also being seen at retail chains. In the three months to the end of August, 57,000 fewer people were employed in retail than a year earlier, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said this week, with the general jobs trend having been down for the past five quarters.

And fashion has played a big part in the trend with stores from Topshop to New Look, Karen Millen, Jack Wills, Pretty Green and many more exiting physical spaces. Fashion retail saw a net loss of 118 stores in the first half of this year.

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