Shop closures in the UK have hit record levels with over twice as many net closures in the first half of 2020 compared to last year, according to research carried out by the Local Data Company and PwC.
Some 11,120 chain operator outlets have closed this year so far, with 5,119 shops opening, creating a net decline of 6,001, almost double the decline tracked last year.
Data showed the pandemic has “accelerated” previous trends in retail that have changed the way in which consumers shop.
However, store openings have remained relatively at the same level as previous years, showing consumer demand for in-person retail remains.
Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said: “We know that the pandemic will continue to impact the way we work, rest and play, however, in terms of how we shop, this isn’t new.
“What we have seen is an acceleration of existing changes in shopping behaviours alongside forced experimentation from COVID-19 restrictions.”
She added: “We all knew that consumers were shifting to shopping online or changing their priorities in terms of the things they buy, but what COVID-19 has done is create a step change in these underlying trends to where they have now become the new normal.”
Lucy Stainton, head of retail and strategic partnerships at the Local Data Company, said: “The results from H1 2020 are a stark reminder of the challenges faced by retailers in the first 6 months of the year, which included a national lockdown.
“There are signs that this is just the tip of the iceberg, as 22% of the multiple market is still closed temporarily. With each week that passes since retail and hospitality businesses were given the green light to reopen, the likelihood of these occupiers ever trading again in those units reduces.”
She added: “This, alongside the impact of local lockdowns and other restrictions such as the 10pm curfew will continue to have a devastating impact on the sector with more closures likely to fall in Q1 2021 following the busier golden quarter.”