Over 11,000 stores closed on UK high streets last year and another 18,000 could follow in 2021, according to the latest research from the Local Data Company.
The figures come as 9,887 chain stores were forced to close last year with an additional 1,442 independent stores shuttering their doors for good. During the period there were 31,405 openings of independent units compared to 32,847 closures.
LDC also found that both independent openings and closures decreased by 11% in 2020, as extended periods of lockdown suppressed market activity.
The decrease in closures indicates that government support schemes designed to stem the flow of retail and leisure closures during the pandemic were more effective for the independent sector than chains, it concluded.
Lucy Stainton, head of Retail and Strategic Partnerships at the Local Data Company said: “Whilst the latest statistics do show that structural decline across the retail and leisure market picked up pace in 2020, it is clear that we are not yet seeing the full impact of the pandemic.
“The number of permanent closures recorded was lower than the previous year as a result of government interventions, yet a significant number of dormant businesses are still ‘temporarily closed’ following the first lockdown. It remains to be seen if these will re-open at all once restrictions are lifted.”
She added: “The volume of activity we are seeing across the independent sector could be cause for some optimism however, as an increase in available retail units and more localised shopping habits create opportunities for those looking to open a business. This could mark a first step towards more diverse and resilient high streets across the country.”