UK high street losing 14 shops a day, report reveals

London - The future of the UK high street looks as uncertain as ever with a study by PwC and the Local Data Company (LDC) showing that an average of 14 stores a day are being shut across the country. The study of 500 UK high streets found that 2,692 stores had been shut in the first six months of the year.

The results show the largest half-year net decline in stores for five years, as a combination of more online shopping, a shift to in-home leisure, and increased restructuring activity leaves the UK high street struggling.

While the rate of closures is similar to the same period last year, the results show a concerning drop in the amount of shops opening year-on-year. In the first half of 2017 there were 2,342 shop openings, while this year that number dropped to 1,569. Greater London and the South East were the areas hit hardest by chain-closures, while Wales fared the best despite still seeing a net loss of 22.

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“Our latest research highlights the challenges facing the retail and leisure sectors on Britain’s high streets,” said Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, in a statement. “The continued rate of store closures reflects the new reality that many of us prefer to shop online and increasingly eat, drink and entertain at home. The high street is adapting to an overcapacity in retail and leisure space resulting from these channel shifts.”

UK high street losing 14 shops a day, report reveals

“The British high street is in urgent need of new ways of thinking and new forms of retail,” Hooker continued. “Encouraging this should be a priority, and it remains to be seen if recent packages of support for the high street and reductions in business rates for smaller retailers will be sufficient to stimulate this.”

Top risers and fallers by business type in H1 2018

RisersNet Change (Units)No. of openingsNo. of closuresFallersNet Change (Units)No. of openingsNo. of closures
Supermarkets8146Fashion shops-104165269
Booksellers81810Public Houses & Inns-9971170
Ice Cream Parlours8168Electrical Goods-44852
Stationers6159Restaurant - Italian-44650
Coffee Shops66054Charity Shops-3780117

Hooker added: “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.”

Openings and closures of multiple retailers by region across the top 500 GB town centres in H1 2018

RegionNumber of store openingsNumber of store closuresH1 2018 net changeH1 2017 net change
East Midlands113239-1268
East of England155217-62-34
Greater London448716-268-23
North East42114-72-11
North West134192-58-10
Scotland58107-49-42
South East230427-197-25
South West127190-63-33
Wales3052-22-11
West Midlands134223-89-33
Yorkshire and the Humber98215-11712
Total15692,692-1,123-222

Zelf Hussain, retail restructuring partner at PwC, added: “The transformation of the UK high street – both physical and virtual – raises questions about how legacy retailers and leisure operators should restructure and what new investment is needed. However, the intensity of the current climate means those questions often require immediate answers."

PwC and the LDC’s analysis tracked 66,961 outlets in 500 town centres across Great Britain, between 1 January and 30 June of this year.

Photo credit: New West End Company/ the Local Data Company