The increasing trend of shoppers choosing to shop online for virtually everything in retail and the need for cost curtailment of companies is forcing the closure of retail chain stores in the UK high streets at a rate that is the fastest in the last nine years.
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers research compiled by the Local Data Company (LDC), last year, a net of 2,481 stores which included banks and other high street businesses closed down shops and stores on Britain’s top 500 high streets. That number was 40 per cent more than in 2017 when the total number of shops that opened was 3,372 while those that closed down was 5,833.
“The results are clear – 2018 was a turbulent year for retailers, with a number of high-profile store closures. We saw an acceleration in footfall decline on the high street, with businesses continuing to see the impact of online shopping, increasing costs and subdued consumer spending,” said Lisa Hooker, the consumer markets leader at PwC, which has backed the survey since 2010.
“The marked reduction in openings has accelerated the net closure trend. In categories as diverse as fashion and financial services, new entrants are able to gain share by launching online – enabled by technology and consumer adoption of mobile and e-commerce – rather than be saddled with the costs and risks of opening on the high street,” added Lisa Hooker.
The biggest reduction in outlets was noted by banks, fashion retailers and value retail groups last year. The closures were driven by the collapse of Poundworld and the poor performance of fashion groups including East, Blue Inc and Jacques Vert. The closure number was also aided by mass store closures by New Look. Hundreds of branches were closed by major banks which included names like HSBC, RBS and Lloyds which has left gaps on many high streets.
Also hit by the spree of closures were restaurants and pubs. The report said that there was a net closure of 506 outlets. This net closure was in opposition to the growth rate for the industry in terms of net openings for three years at a stretch since 2015 driven by growth in the industry. A crisis in the casual dining sector had also forced downsizing of Carluccio’s, Jamie’s Italian and the burger chains Byron and Gourmet Burger Kitchen. Accordingot the PwC, the factors that drove the industry to not only close down shops but also prevented new openings included high levels of market saturation, rising costs and a the trend of consumers of choosing to dine an drink at home.
The report however noted in increase in the number of stores in gyms, bookshops, ice-cream parlours, vape shops and cake shops because of the rising trend on high streets to shift towards entertainment, experiences and indulgent treats instead of the everyday shopping.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)