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Coronavirus

Covid-19 forced over 17,500 chain stores to close in 2020

The results showed that as many 17,352 stores across England, Scotland and Wales permanently shuttered last year, whilst only 7,655 shops opened

More than 17,500 chain stores were forced to close last year across the UK, as Covid-19 has created one of the worst declines for retail on record. 

According to research by PwC and the Local Data Company, 2020 saw an average of 48 shops, restaurants and leisure venues close every day – with only 21 opening. 

The results showed that as many 17,352 stores across England, Scotland and Wales permanently shuttered last year, whilst only 7,655 shops opened. Creating a net closure of 9,877. 

These findings compare to five years ago in 2015, which saw net decline of just over 1,000, 50% more openings and 25% fewer closures than 2020. 

The figures are based on a study of more than 208,057 outlets operated by multiple retailers – which means retailers that have more than five or more outlets nationally.

It was found that retail parks saw the smallest number of net closures of any location at 453, as many of these sites have benefitted from “being anchored by essential retailers that have remained open”. 

This is compared to the high streets and shopping centres which saw 4,690 and 1,791 closures respectively. 

The figures come, as John Lewis warned that it does not expect to reopen all its stores at the end of lockdown. 

The department chain, which operates across 42 UK sites, said that some “areas can no longer profitably sustain a John Lewis store” – with the group also reporting a £517m pre-tax loss. 

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets lead at PwC, said: “The effect of Covid-19 is yet to be seen on most categories as much of the impact we’ve seen this year is a reflection of things that happened before the pandemic.

“This was not just the move online but areas such as legislative changes, e.g. for betting shops, consolidation due to previous overexpansion, or chainwide closures for restaurants and mobile phone stores that found themselves in trouble pre-Covid.”

She added: “The full extent will be revealed in the coming months as many of the CVAs and administrations in the early part of 2021 still haven’t been captured, including department stores, fashion retailers and hospitality operators that will leave big holes in city centre locations.”

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