Over 8,700 chain stores have disappeared from UK retail locations in the first six months of 2021, equating to over 47 stores a day, according to the latest PwC research compiled by the Local Data Company (LDC).
The research showed that in total, 3,488 shops opened compared with 8,739 closures, creating a net decline of 5,251.
Regional performance has also reflected the higher number of closures in cities. For example, South East and East Anglia have been “relatively protected”, as commuters have stayed close to home.
Meanwhile, longer lockdowns in Scotland and Wales last year meant that these regions fared worse in early 2021 than in 2020, with some store closures delayed until the current year, bucking the trend across the UK of slower closures.
Retail parks, which have seen a smaller number of net closures (634), fared better than high streets (3,643) and shopping centres (1,464), with many anchored by grocery, DIY and home furnishings retailers, categories that have outperformed others since the start of the pandemic.
Lisa Hooker, consumer markets lead at PwC, said: “After an acceleration in store closures last year coupled with last minute Christmas tier restrictions and lockdowns extending into 2021, we might have expected a higher number of store closures this year.
“Government support has proved to be the lifeline for many to weather the storm and survive the pandemic. There is also continued uncertainty for hospitality businesses who will be apprehensive of further restrictions on operating and the possible requirement for vaccine passports later in the year.”
She added: “Consumers still want a physical shopping experience and a number of chain stores and restaurants are opening. There is opportunity for operators who can be nimble, taking advantage of the current situation to either open new stores or to move stores to better locations.”