High Street

High street store openings at lowest level in seven years

New high street store openings have fallen to their lowest level since 2010, new research suggests.

A report by retail location strategists Local Data Company (LDC) for PwC, which studied 500 town centres across the country, shows that the number of new stores opened on the UK high street feel by 10% from 4,534 in 2016 to 4,083 in 2017.

It was also revealed that an average of 16 stores a day closed in 2017, bringing the total to 5,855 for the year. The second half of 2017 saw a significantly higher number of closures and fewer openings compared to the first six months.

Beauty product stores, coffee shops, cafes and tearooms, and ice cream parlours showed the highest increase in net store numbers in 2017. Booksellers and tobacconists also had a good year, with physical book shops and vaping remaining popular with consumers. Fashion stores, convenience stores and shoe shops saw the largest number of closures.

It is the second consecutive year the number of closures have risen, and overall it amounts to a net loss of 1,772 stores from Britain’s town centres in 2017.

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said: “2017 was tough for the British retail industry, particularly the second half of the year. We saw volatility from month to month and across different sectors as wage growth failed to keep up with inflation, forcing many shoppers to think more carefully about their spending habits.

“On top of this, many retailers are increasingly feeling the impact of the acceleration of online shopping. Digital offerings are increasingly becoming make-or-break in areas like fashion, but also for banks, travel agents and estate agents – all of which closed a significant number of high street outlets last year.”

She added: “The British high street is undoubtedly facing headwinds but retailers are waking up to the challenge and reimagining the future.”

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