High street stores have been closing at a rate of 14 per day throughout the first half of 2018 while experts warn the troubles are “unlikely to abate” in the near future.
According to new research from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the Local Data Company, which studied 500 high streets throughout the UK, there were 2692 store closures in the first six months of the year.
Furthermore, store openings have dropped by a third and are now easily outpaced by closures, with just 1569 stores opening their doors in the same period, compared to 2342 stores a year earlier.
The South East and Greater London were reportedly worst hit, while the East, North East and Midlands came close behind.
Wales was the best-performing region, despite still seeing a net loss of 22 stores during the period.
“The high street is adapting to an overcapacity in retail and leisure space resulting from these channel shifts,” PwC’s consumer markets leader Lisa Hooker said.
“Openings simply aren’t replacing the closures at a fast enough rate. Specifically, the openings across ‘experiential’ chains, such as ice cream parlours, beauty salons and vape shops, haven’t been enough to offset closures in the more traditional categories.
“Looking ahead, the turmoil facing the sector is unlikely to abate. Store closures already announced in the second half of the year due to administrations and CVAs already will further intensify the situation.”
In response to growing pressure on the government to reform business rates, cited as a key factor in the declining fortunes of the UK’s retail industry, high streets minister Jake Berry said: “The government recognises the challenges facing high streets driven by changing consumer behaviour.
“That is why the Budget has high streets at its heart. We have created a £675 million fund to help high streets adapt, slashed business rates by a third for the majority of smaller businesses, and are creating a task force guided by Sir John Timpson, one of the UK’s most experienced retailers, to ensure that high streets are adapting for rapid change and are fit for the future.
“These measures totalling over £1.5 billion show the government’s determination to make thriving high streets a permanent part of every community in England.”