Retailers closing 15 shops a day on Britain’s high streets

Retailers in Great Britain closed 2,656 shops in the first six months of 2016, a rate of 15 stores a day, according to figures published on Tuesday.

This is a slight increase on the 14 stores a day that closed in the first six months of 2015, professional services firm PwC reported. At the same time, the number of new store openings has fallen to the lowest level since 2011.

PwC research compiled by the Local Data Company (LDC) shows that a net 503 stores disappeared from high streets, retail parks and shopping centres in England, Scotland and Wales in the first half of 2016. This represents the highest net decline since the first half of 2012, when 953 more stores closed than opened.

Tobacconists, estate agents and jewellers were among the shops growing their presence during the first half of 2016. Takeaway food shops, coffee shops and health clubs also thrived.

At the other end of the scale, fashion shops, banks and mobile phone shops were amongst the hardest hit. And, with the emergence of online and other career-related portals (e.g. LinkedIn) supporting recruitment, the high street presence of recruitment agencies is shrinking.

PwC also noted that a contributing factor to the closure of retail stores is the advance of online shopping, which has led to an overhaul of store strategies for national chains. LDC’s analysis showed that there are more than 22,200 click and collect services across 130 of the largest national retailers.

Commenting on the study, Matthew Hopkinson, director of the Local Data Company, said:

“The role of the store continues to evolve. Provision of a seamless on and offline experience is key. ‘Click and collect’ is but one example of this.

“Chains are having to work harder than ever to guarantee store location, format and experience along with a strong web presence, social presence and logistical operation that delivers to consumers’ ever increasing demands of ‘now’. This is severely impacting profitability and hastens store closures.

“The spaces left by the traditional occupants of our high streets are being increasingly filled by health care operators, food and beverage operators and the ongoing rise of the discounters. Understanding the ‘who’ and ‘where’ when it comes to multiple retailers is the key to create the destination that leads to successful and healthy town centres.”