William Eichler 11 September 2019

High streets see ‘record decline’ in shops as 16 close each day

High streets have been hit hard this year with a record decline in store numbers being recorded for the first half of 2019.

Research from the services firm PwC reveals that the first half of 2019 saw 1,634 stores opened and 2,868 stores closed over the first six months of this year.

This represents a net decline of 1,234 chain stores on Britain’s top 500 high streets, the highest number recorded since 2010 and an increase on 2018 which saw a net decline of 1,123 in the first six months.

It found that while store openings rose by 4%, overall there were twice as many store closures (16 per day) as openings (9 per day).

PwC says the decline of high street shops is the result of companies restructuring and customers shopping online.

‘The record net decline in store numbers in the first half of 2019 shows that there’s been no let-up in the changing ways that people shop and the cost pressures affecting high street operators,’ said Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC.

‘While retailers need to keep investing to make sure their stores and propositions are relevant to today’s consumers, it’s also critical that all stakeholders find ways to ease the burden on operators, keep investing in the high street, and encourage new and different types of operators to fill vacant space.

‘The good news is that there are green shoots, as new entrants are entering even embattled sectors such as fashion. Our research tells us that consumers still want to spend their money in well located and invested stores and leisure venues on the high street.

‘However, as consumers continue to change the way they shop and spend their leisure time, the reality is that we may need fewer high streets in the future.

‘This opens up opportunities to repurpose high street space for other uses, while the remaining space evolves to meet consumer demand for convenience, choice and experience.’

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