High Streets Initiative · 11 April 2018

High Street stores opening rates fall to lowest in seven years

Opening fell by 10 per cent from 4,534 in 2016 to 4,083 in 2017.

UK High Street stores are opening at their lowest level in seven years, new research reveals.

Figures from the Local Data Company (LDC) show that store openings have fell by 10 per cent since 2010, during 2017 there was only 4,083 High Street startups.

Whereas, a total of 5,855 High Street stores closed last year – at an average of 16 per day.

Lisa Hooker at PwC, who commissioned the research said 2017 had been “tough for the British retail industry, especially the second half of the year”.

She said it is important to remember the British High Street still plays a vital role in society and there are elements of growth amongst the headline numbers of decline.

“Almost 400 new clothes shops opened last year, even though over 700 closed. And, while four pubs a week closed, at the same time three a week opened.”

Clothing and shoe shops closed at the fastest rate, while the number of beauty salons, coffee shops, ice-cream parlours, vape shops and bookshops were on the up.

With sluggish wage growth and rising inflation consumers have been more cautious in their spending habits.

“We saw volatility from month to month and across different sectors as wage growth failed to keep up with inflation, forcing many shoppers to think more carefully about their spending habits,” added Hooker.

On top of this, many retailers are increasingly feeling the impact of the acceleration of online shopping as consumers begin to feel more comfortable with the price transparency and reliability of delivery options offered by online players.”

Many local retailers are increasingly feeling the impact of online shopping. Specific areas feeling the pinch are fashion, travel agents, estate agents and banks.

Lucy Stainton, a senior relationship manager at LDC, said 2018 would be when new entrants and younger brands took advantage of the “shake-out” in retail, seeing it as an opportunity to pick up available property.

The Greater London region suffered the most in the UK, with a net loss of 336 shops last year. In comparison to the south-east of England at 185 and the east of England at 184.

However, the entirety of Wales only suffered a net loss of 53 and Scotland had 148 closures. But no region saw a net gain.

“There is of course no doubting that we are experiencing a period of great change in retail, and the question around the relevance and role of stores is still very much on the industry agenda”.

However, she added: “Businesses with a relevant proposition and a strong understanding of their customer can absolutely still thrive in the right locations.”

The one retail marketing strategy keeping M&S, New Look and House of Fraser in the black even when sales are down

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.

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