High street shops closing at rate of 16 a day

Shops to let.
Shops to let.
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STORES CLOSED at a rate of 16 a day last year, according to new research.

The fall in the number of high street shops accelerated three-fold in 2014 as a net 987 outlets shut their doors.

An overall 5,839 stores closed, equivalent to 16 a day. This was little changed on 2013 when the number stood at 6,033.

But there were fewer openings, with 4,852 in 2014 and 5,662 the year before.

Research for PwC compiled by the Local Data Company showed the rate of net closures had risen from 371 in 2013 though this was still lower than the record 1,779 in 2012.

Traditional retailers such as clothes and food shops saw declines together with service outlets including optician, travel agents, hairdressers and recruitment agencies.

They lost out at the expense of food, beverage and entertainment stores which continued to thrive though at a lower rate than before, the report said.

The biggest losers by category were mobile phone shops, which saw their numbers drop by 419, followed by building societies and cheque cashing outlets and pawnbrokers.

In contrast, charity shops grew by 64 while coffee shop numbers also increased as well as tobacconists including e-cigarette shops.

Toby Underwoood, insolvency partner at PwC said: “This year’s numbers expose the harsh impact of ‘macro’ changes on the high street, especially in certain sub-sectors.

“Regulation has blindsided the money shops, the advance of technology has hammered some phone operators and the internet continues to dent the clothing sector.

“Despite the benign economy, the net loss of shops has accelerated.

“The insolvencies of Phones4U, Blockbuster, Albemarle & Bond, and La Senza, a diverse cross-section of the retail market, epitomise these factors.

“Despite the continuing problem of closures, new sub-sectors, such as discount shops and charity shops keep growing.

“The strength of the restaurant and fast-food sectors is also a fillip for the high street.”

Matthew Hopkinson, director of the Local Data Company, said town centres continue to evolve away from traditional shops and services to leisure activities such as food and drink and entertainment, reflected by the strong rise in British and American restaurants last year.