// Another 18,000 high street units could be left empty this year, Local Data Company finds
// From Thursday, all non-essential retailers in England will temporarily shut their doors
// The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a number of retailers shuttering stores
New research has found that another 18,000 high street units could be left empty this year, almost double the number in 2019 as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect trading.
The closures would leave 14 per cent of high street, retail park and shopping centre outlets empty across the UK, according to the Local Data Company (LDC).
From Thursday, all non-essential retailers in England will temporarily shut their doors as a result of rising Covid-19 cases across the country.
Non essential services will close for a month, along with gyms, cinemas, hospitality venues and places of worship.
As England prepares to enter the month-long lockdown, the Local Data Company warned that “vast numbers” of leisure and hospitality businesses could permanently close.
The forecast for the full year comes after 7834 outlets closed their doors in the first half of 2020, up 115 per cent on the first half of last year, as shoppers switched to buying online.
LDC said preparations for more closures had already begun, and more restructures were likely as a moratorium on commercial evictions ends next month.
The research company also said it expected nearly 15,000 more outlets would be left vacant in 2020, compared with 9169 net closures in 2019.
Meanwhile, independent high street businesses have proved more resilient than chain stores during the high street lockdown with fewer than one per cent disappearing in the first half of the year.
Clothing and department stores have seen the biggest shift online as most were forced to close for three months during the first national lockdown.
“The latest figures on the GB retail and leisure market tell the story of an immensely challenging few months for the retail and hospitality sector,” LDC head of retail Lucy Stainton said.
“These figures mark only the first phase in the impact of the pandemic on the retail economy this year with 20 per cent of the market still temporarily shut and with more months of difficult trading conditions ahead.”