Fashion saw store vacancies rise by up to 5% in 2016

The number of physical fashion and footwear stores has dropped by up to five per cent over the last year, as the sector continues to struggle.

New figures from the Local Data Company (LDC), attained by Drapers, have revealed that high street and shopping centres across the UK have seen fashion stores fall by three per cent in the past 12 months.

Scotland saw the sharpest decline with fashion retailers dropping by five per cent, while Greater London saw a further fall of two per cent.

Footwear retailers faired the worst over 2016 as independents saw a six per cent drop in London and Scotland, while nationwide retail parks saw a massive 21 per cent decline.

READ MORE: Grocery vs Fashion: Why is fashion being left in grocery’s dust?

Staple footwear stores like Clarks, Shoezone and Brantano also saw up to an eight per cent drop in store numbers last year.

“These trends are not surprising. Selling fashion goods has become very cut-throat,” LDC director Matthew Hopkinson said.

“Online businesses have been performing well but remain a nightmare for retailers who are only seeing roughly 30 per cent in returns.

“The overall results tell us that there has been a significant squeeze on consumer spend and confidence.

“Clothing retailers in particular need to be more experimental in promoting their brands. It is a challenging market, and clothing is a key anchor for high streets.”

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