High street stores closed at a faster rate in 2014

Tuesday, 17 March 2015
The number of high street stores fell sharply in 2014, as more stores closed than opened, according to new research from the Local Data Company and PwC three times as many shops disappeared last year compared to 2013. The research based its analysis on the top 500 UK town centres, and found that 5,839 outlets closed in 2014 compared to 4,852 openings, the equivalent to 16 stores a day closing, as the high street continues to struggle against the advance of online sales and changing consumer demand.

The report found that traditional goods shops, including clothing and footwear retailers, were the hardest hit, with 765 shops pulling down the shutters for the final time last year. Of those 98 were women’s clothing stores and 55 were men’s clothing stores.

Service retail, such as opticians, travel agents and hairdressers, saw a further net decline of 457 shops, while leisure stores, which include food, drink and entertainment, continued to thrive albeit at a slower rate. There were an additional 233 stores in 2014, compared to an extra 311 in 2013. The most popular openings last year were charity shops, coffee shops, tobacconists/E-cigarettes, pound shops and betting shops.

Mike Jervis, insolvency partner and retail specialist at PwC, said: “This year’s numbers expose the harsh impact of ‘macro’ changes on the high street, especially in certain sub-sectors. Regulation has blindsided the money shops, the advance of technology has hammered some phone operators and the internet continues to dent the clothing sector.

“Despite the benign economy, the net loss of shops has accelerated. The insolvencies of Phones4U, Blockbuster, Albemarle & Bond, and La Senza, a diverse cross-section of the retail market, epitomise these factors.”

High street continues to struggle with 16 stores a day closing in 2014

Mark Hudson, retail leader at PwC, added: “We’re again seeing the continued effects of the digital revolution and consequent change in customer behaviour play out on the high street – these trends have been with us for some time and we should expect the rate of closures to continue.

“Customers are embracing new mobile technologies, traditional retail channels to market are being wiped out and new channels are being created, often in the online rather than the "real" world. Rather than try to recreate the past, the high street needs to evolve to be relevant to the future.”

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