A record net 2,481 stores disappeared from the UK’s top 500 high streets in 2018, according to PwC research compiled by the Local Data Company (LDC).
According to the firm, store openings also dropped to nine a day – almost half the levels of five years ago – due to “structural change in consumer habits”.
Additionally, the number of store openings by multiple retailers dropped by 17.4% year-on-year with the current rate of openings at nine stores per day. This also represents a 44% decrease from the 16 stores per day opening in 2013.
Categories traditionally amongst the risers in previous years, including jewellery stores, have all seen net declines in 2018 as “overcapacity and economic conditions took their toll”.
Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said: “The results are clear – 2018 was a turbulent year for retailers with a number of high profile store closures. We saw an acceleration in footfall decline on the high street with businesses continuing to see the impact of online shopping, increasing costs and subdued consumer spending.
“It’s interesting that the marked reduction in openings has accelerated the net closure trend. In categories as diverse as fashion and financial services, new entrants are able to gain share by launching online – enabled by technology and consumer adoption of mobile and e-commerce – rather than be saddled with the costs and risks of opening on the high street.”
She added: “The high street of the future will be a more diverse space, not solely dependent on stores. The analysis reflects this with the net growth of gyms and sports clubs, ice cream parlours and cake shops, in addition to initiatives to bring more shared office spaces and homes into what were traditionally shopping areas.”