The UK’s high streets are continuing to face challenges as a new report reveals planning applications for new shops has fallen for the ninth year running.
According to research by property firm Lendy, new shop applications have more than halved since 2008, dropping from 13,500 to just 6000 in 2017.
Although the study points to more long-term issues, the recent hike in business rates alongside the fall in the pound are likely to have put many retailers’ expansion plans on hold.
It also highlights the growing trend of “showrooming”, where retailers opt for smaller spaces used to display products digitally, encouraging customers to then make the purchase online, cutting bills for large stockrooms and members of staff.
“Investors in shops and shopping centres had been used to rents only ever going up, safe in the knowledge that any vacancies could be filled by one of a number of expansion-minded retailers,” Lendy co-founder Liam Brooke said.
“The recession and the boost to e-commerce from smartphones ended all that.
“Falling planning applications for new shops is a direct result of the pressures the retail industry is dealing with at the moment.
“Consumers can now get all the products they need on the internet, and as a result, retailers are seeing less need to invest in their high-street presence.”