High Streets Initiative ยท 13 November 2017

High street retail closures fall to seven-year low

Ice cream
Ice cream shops have become more common on Britain’s high streets
The number of high street retail closures has fallen to a seven-year low, according to new research.

In the first six months of 2017, rates of retail openings and closures fell to their lowest level in seven years.

A study from The Local Data Company into the health of high streets in 500 UK town centres, showed that 2,564 stores had closed in the first half of the year ? the equivalent of 14 a day.

Meanwhile, there were 2,342 store openings, resulting in a net total of 222 high street shop disappearances.

Newsagents, women?s clothing shops, shoe shops and pubs were the types of businesses worst affected by high street retail closures, according to the report.

However, businesses like banks and general fashion stores saw their lowest proportion of net retail closures in three years.

Some types of high street business actually saw their number of store openings increase over the period. Barbers, beauty salons, cafes and tobacconists all saw overall store numbers grow.

One type of business that performed particularly well on Britain?s high streets in the first six months of the year were ice cream parlours.

The expansion of Ben & Jerry?s and Kaspa?s franchises has contributed to the industry?s success, it is thought.

In terms of the worst hit parts of the UK, Scotland suffered most. The country experienced a net loss of 42 high street stores, compared with net loss of 34 in the East of England.

Just two regions recorded a net gain in high street stores. The Yorkshire and Humber region showed a net gain of 12 shops for the period, whilst the East Midlands recorded eight more stores.

Welcoming the overall fall in the rate of retail closures, Mike Jervis, a retail expert at PwC, which commissioned the study, said it reflected a ?more stable? UK retail environment.

But, he went on to warn retailers: ?The environment is, of course, uncertain, with recent data showing a more challenging retail environment. I expect net store closures to be an ongoing feature of the market.

?Retailers will choose specific closure stores very carefully and will aim to capitalise on leases expiring in the ordinary course of their businesses.?

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Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.