Tough conditions on UK high streets and stiff competition from online retailers has seen the closure of 16,000 shops over the last seven years.
New figures from ratings adviser Altus Group revealed that in the seven years since the last business rates revaluation 15,856 shops across England and Wales have shut, meaning that 44 shops a week have either been demolished or converted.
Overall shop count has dropped 3.68% since 2010 and currently stands at 414,504, down from 430,360.
“If we want to maintain a variety of forms of competitive retail enterprise, from small stores to large big box and department stores serving villages, towns and big cities, we need to ensure that property and company taxes do not consistently penalise physical shops in favour of e-commerce,” the Centre for Retail Research’s Professor Joshua Bamfield explained, reported the Retail Gazette.
President of UK business rates at Altus Alex Probyn added: “An online sales tax might be used to level the playing field, but it does not belong within a system based largely on rental values.
“An online sales tax, for example, should not be seen as a generator of additional income, but revenue could be ring-fenced and used to provide additional relief for traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers.”
Budding e-commerce trade has previously been blamed for the stagnant growth of bricks and mortar retailer. Last month Professional Jeweller revealed that nationwide retail event Black Friday had seen record sales online while high street stores suffered a blow to footfall.