Almost 10,000 more chain store locations were closed than were opened in 2020, according to multinational professional services network PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

While 7,655 new locations opened throughout the 12-month period, 17,532 stores were closed, presumably as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic in most cases.

This equates to 48 chain stores closing per day, compared to only 21 opening, PwC said.


When compared to 2015’s figures, the net decline of stores was only a little over 1,000 stores.

PwC notes that even more store closures are coming, as many of the locations currently listed as ‘temporarily closed’ will never reopen, with London among the worst hit areas of the country so far.

Meanwhile, retail parks have seen the smallest number of net closures of any location (453), compared to high streets (4,690) and shopping centres (1,791).

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets lead at PwC, said: “For the first time, we’re seeing a widening gap between different types of locations: city centres and shopping centres are faltering, but certain retail parks with the right customer appeal are prospering.

“Location is more important than ever as we see a reversal of historical trends. For years, multiple operators have opened more sites in cities and closed units in smaller towns.

“As consumer behaviours and location preferences change, partly as a result of COVID-19, retailers are moving to be where they need to be.

“Small towns will remain important but we can expect recovery in cities as workers and tourists return, albeit in smaller numbers adopting more flexible working models.”