83% of UK department stores lost in 5 years

83% of UK department stores lost in 5 years
Department stores have been under pressure well before the Covid-19 pandemic.
// 83% of UK department store space has shut down for good since BHS collapsed in 2016
// 79 stores remain today compared to 467 five years ago
// While 388 department stores have closed, 237 are still stand vacant

New research has shown that more than 80 per cent of department stores in the UK have been lost in the five years since the collapse of BHS.

According to data compiled by commercial property information specialist CoStar Group for the BBC, 83 per cent of UK department store space has shut down for good since BHS collapsed in 2016, and many former branches are still empty.

The data suggested that major department store chains such as BHS, Debenhams, House of Fraser and John Lewis had 467 branches five years ago – but with the collapse of BHS, closure of Debenhams and some restructures undertaken by John Lewis and House of Fraser, only 79 remain.

In addition, while 388 department stores have closed, 237 are still stand vacant – although there are plans for a change of use or repurposing of 52 of them.

”The data undoubtedly highlights the acceleration of change in the retail sector in recent years, which the pandemic has only exacerbated,” CoStar Group head of analytics Mark Stansfield said.

On a more upbeat note, he added: ”We are increasingly seeing forward-thinking real estate owners getting ahead of the problem and reshaping what are key assets in our town centres to provide a focal point for regeneration.

“I think we’ll see many more plans come to light in the coming months. With these store closures come new opportunities.”

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  1. I hope the owners of the freeholds to the closed department stores do not usher in a maze of coffee shops, wine bars and foreign fast food establishments in their desperation to claw in rent. If they haven’t already done so, they should test the waters with a questionnaire to find out what type of shops people really want. One possibility is an indoor childrens’ playground for small children.

  2. BHS wasn’t a surprise given Green purchased them and like Lewis’s before them he stripped them and bled them dry for the monnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnney.

    All about the money with him. BHS, had not been invested in, in years and had long ceased to be relevant. Even my parents stopped shopping there. The plus point of them was homeware and lighting and now lighting lives on with a new BHS which has some stores in the North and Midlands separate from the old BHS.

    Beales were on the way out, though now back with plans for 5 stores.

    H of F are shrinking as they are given notice to quit by landlords who want more than no rent and just business rates paid. Though they are returning to Derby with a Frasers store in the old Debenhams ( including Sports Direct) not sure how the latter works as cheap with expensive does not go. Would be better to have them separated entrances as part of one store.

    Flannels are also moving in to the old Top Shop store and upsizing in Derby so 20 per cent of the Derbion.

    JL and Fenwick still going strong but I do prefer JL. Dearly wish they would move to Canterbury Fenwick site. But unlikely.

    Department stores still have a place. They are not dead not for people of my age and those that like to shop in person. Debs had problems for years. Bled dry for the monnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnney and all that’s wrong with tory UK

    Many of these old stores will be mixed use residential / office/ leisure and retail in smaller units and I hope for Independents and small chains to ensure the high street adapts and survive. None will be empty forever.


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