The number of high street shops closing may be dropping to the lowest rate since 2010, but it still equates to 14 store closures a day.
Research carried out by PwC showed that there were 2,564 store closures during the first six months of the year – outstripping the 2,342 shop openings during the same period.
The continued closure of stores stresses how far UK high streets have suffered in recent years as online retailers and distributors have grown their business.
Analysis of 67,521 chain stores – accounting for those with more than five national outlets – across 500 town centres in Great Britain showed that charity shops, shoe stores, gift shops and women’s clothing retailers were the hardest hit over the period.
The net difference between closures and openings has shrunk significantly to 222 stores versus the net loss of 503 stores in the first half of 2016, and is the smallest figure since the same period in 2013, when 209 more stores closed than had opened.
Massive store closures
However, it must be understood that the most savage store closure programmes have already been instigated and that the trend is still more closures rather than openings.
The greatest number of closures were in Greater London and the South East with the least affected areas, this time at least, being Wales and the North East.
Mike Jervis, an insolvency partner and retail specialist at PwC, told PA the “relatively low” number of closures over the period reflected a “more stable environment” and proved that consumer confidence was more resilient than had been expected.
Stores that have previously seen notable high street declines have also started to reach an equilibrium, according to PwC, with general fashion stores and banks and recording their lowest number of net closures in three years.
But coffee shops and beauticians saw a relative boom, having seen their presence on the high street grow at the fastest pace among their peers in the first half of the year.