Retail chain store closures at lowest level for seven years

ETON, ENGLAND - JUNE 10: A general view of Eton High Street, which will hold a street party to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's 90th birthday, pictured on June 10, 2016 in Eton, England. The town of Eton neighbours Windsor, home of Windsor Castle and a royal residence of Queen Elizabeth II, and is home to Eton College where Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry were educated. The town is celebrating the Queen's 90th birthday, and will hold a street party on Sunday. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Despite the advance of online retail and a testing economy, the number of chain retail outlets closing on Great Britain’s high streets is at its lowest level for seven years, research compiled by the Local Data Company for PwC reveals.

An analysis of 67,521 retail chain stores, across 500 town centres in Great Britain, found that 2,564 outlets closed in the first six months of 2017 – an equivalent to 14 bricks and mortar chain closures a day.

At the same time, there were 2,342 chain store openings over the period, meaning that a net total of 222 high street chain shops disappeared. This represents the smallest net decline since 2013, when 209 more stores closed than opened.

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Charity shops, shoe stores, and women’s clothing retailers experienced the greatest hit, while general fashion stores, banks and cheque cashing shops saw their lowest number of net closures in three years.

Furthermore, tobacconists, coffee shops, ice cream parlours and beauty salons recorded growth, with leisure chains continuing to thrive.

Mike Jervis, a retail specialist at PwC has states that the “relatively low” number of closures over the period reflected a “more stable environment”.

However, he warns: “The environment is, of course, uncertain, with recent data showing a more challenging retail environment. I expect net store closures to be an ongoing feature of the market.

“Retailers will choose specific closure stores very carefully and will aim to capitalise on leases expiring in the ordinary course of their businesses.”

The store closures were unevenly spread across the country. Scotland fared worst, with a net loss of 42 shops, while eastern England lost 34.

Only two out of 11 British regions showed net gains: Yorkshire and the Humber, which added 12 shops, and the East Midlands, which now has eight more shops.

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