In 2020 more than 17,500 UK chain store outlets disappeared as the pandemic spurred the worst decline in stores on record, according to research from the Local Data Company and PwC.
All retail destinations were impacted, including the UK’s most famous shopping Mecca Oxford Street, which bid farewell to iconic stores such as Topshop and Gap.
Retail Gazette looks at how Oxford Street has changed since the pandemic.
Topshop disappeared from the high street following the demise of Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia empire in late 2020.
It’s iconic Oxford Circus flagship closed its doors for the final time in early 2021. While the property has been vacant ever since, Ikea has revealed it will take over the space this autumn after paying £378 million for the site.
Debenhams‘ flagship Oxford Street store in London permanently shuttered following the department store’s collapse at the end of 2020.
The department store’s storefront once lit up Oxford Street. Now it is boarded up with only the old signage remaining.
House of Fraser
Oxford Street said farewell to another department store at the start of the year as House of Fraser closed its doors.
Closed signs cover the front now, however, the site will soon be redeveloped into six floors of offices, with a rooftop restaurant, a pool and gym. Retail will still have a place on the ground floor.
Forever 21 to Superdry
Forever 21’s Oxford Street store closed pre-pandemic in 2019 after the US fashion retailer exited the UK but in a positive move, Superdry opened a new 28,000sq ft store at the site in December last year.
In one of the most upsetting transformations, HMV’s former Oxford Street home, which was not acquired when the retailer was bought out of administration in 2019 by entrepreneur Doug Putnam, has been turned into an American Candy store.
In 2021, Next closed one of its two stores on Oxford Street as footfall was hit by lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures. Signs in the window of the store at Bond Street now direct shoppers to the retailer’s other store at the east end of Oxford Street.
Gap opted to close all UK stores last year in the face of declining sales. Gap’s iconic flagship at 376-384 Oxford St is currently vacant with a signs saying “Global Flagship Store to Rent” covering where the window displays once went.
Although, Next has now opened its first Gap concession at its Oxford Street flagship, marking the brand’s return to the UK high street.