New retail development applications declined by nine per cent in the past year, according to a report published today.
The report, published by commercial law firm EMW, said there were 6700 applications for new retail developments in 2015, down from 7360 in 2014 and making it the seventh consecutive year of decline.
The last peak was in 2008, when there were 11,900 applications.
EMW said that despite bricks-and-mortar retailers increasingly expanding their online services, many were still failing at the competition with online-only retailers such as ASOS and Amazon.
The report also highlighted how these online-only retailers were boosted by the recent collapses of BHS, Austin Reed, and convenience store chain My Local.
With online retailers continuing to win market share, high street firms have less of an appetite to open new shops, instead opting to develop online services or squeeze extra profits from existing space by changing the shopping experience or repurposing stores to act more as showrooms or collection points,” EMW’s Aimee Barrable said.
“Recent high-profile closures will lead to more retail space becoming available on the market.
“Those retailers still looking to expand their high street presence might look to acquire some of these recently vacated stores instead of applying for any new retail developments.”
The law firm added that retailers could encounter more problems thanks to last month’s Brexit vote and the potential impact it could have on the UK economy.
“It may be that many retailers wait before committing to any new shop developments until they have a clearer picture of the economy in the aftermath of the Brexit vote,” Barrable said.