High streets in Yorkshire continued to face a challenging retail environment last month, according to the latest research from insolvency and restructuring trade body R3.
Data from R3 showed that in September 2019 the level of physical shops at higher than normal risk of insolvency in the region was once more above the average across the UK as a whole. The percentage of shops in Yorkshire deemed to be at elevated risk of insolvency in the next 12 months was 42.5 per cent compared with the national average of 40.6 per cent.
However, levels of bricks-and-mortar stores at higher than normal risk had again decreased slightly in the region since the previous quarter.
Three months earlier in June, the regional level was 44.1 per cent, again higher than the UK-wide figure of 41.6 per cent.
Nearly 4,400 of the 10,300-plus shops in Yorkshire were deemed to be at higher than normal risk of insolvency.
Nationally, more than 59,700 of the 147,200-plus physical retail businesses were considered to be in the enhanced risk category.
Jackie Mulligan, local high street champion and founder of ShopAppy, told The Yorkshire Post that it had been an “unbelievably tough year” for the high street.
“However, in spite of the challenges, independents still remain relatively resilient, largely because they can respond in a more agile fashion and there is a rise in attention on markets and pop-ups in empty spaces,” she added.
Home furnishings stores in the region again showed the highest levels of companies deemed to be at higher than average risk.
Eleanor Temple, chairwoman of R3 in Yorkshire, said: “Despite mounting gloom on the high street, with more cases of high profile retail struggles, levels of distress do appear to be stabilising.
“We have seen slight quarter on quarter falls in levels of higher than normal insolvency risk in retail throughout 2019, both here and nationally.”
She added: “It is worth noting that although the increase of internet shopping is often cited as one of the key factors in the demise of the high street, levels of above-normal insolvency risk are also relatively high for online retail business.”
Ms Mulligan, who was formerly director of enterprise at Leeds Beckett University, believes that healthy high streets are key to people being happier.
She said: “High streets are the heart of our towns, they provide the first jobs for our kids, the uniqueness and identity of our area, they are fundamentally linked to our own sense of identity and aspiration.
“A vibrant town is less likely to experience anti-social behaviour or to feel unsafe. Local businesses often provide a vital social aspect to our communities and help combat loneliness and isolation.”