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Department Stores

Number of UK department stores falls 83% in five years

Since 2016, department store units have fallen from 467 stores down to 79 stores

The number of department stores in the UK has plummeted 83% since the collapse of BHS in 2016. 

According to the BBC, this underlines the “upheaval” of the high street following changes to shopping habits that have been accelerated by the pandemic. 

The latest figure comes from new research by the commercial property information firm CoStar Group, which tracked the number of the UK’s largest department store chains, including BHS, Debenhams and House of Fraser, over the last five years. 

It found that since 2016, department store units have fallen from 467 stores down to 79 stores. Of the 388 sites that have since closed, 237 are still empty, whilst 52 have plans to be repurposed. 

CoStar Group’s head of analytics, Mark Stansfield, told the BBC: “The data undoubtedly highlights the acceleration of change in the retail sector in recent years, which the pandemic has only exacerbated. 

“We are increasingly seeing forward-thinking real estate owners getting ahead of the problem and reshaping what are key assets in our town centres to provide a focal point for regeneration.”

He added that he believes we will see “many more plans come to light” in the coming months, adding that with these store closures “come new opportunities”.

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