The number of shops on the UK’s high streets fell sharply in the first half of this year and has been further accelerated by the collapse of chains such as La Senza.
In total, 3,003 shops closed in the first half of 2014, down from the 3,366 closures in the same period last year - but 15% fewer shops opened, according to an analysis of the UK’s town centres carried out by PwC and the Local Data Company.
This led to a net reduction of 406 shops in the first half of 2014, compared to 209 in the first half of 2013 and 371 for the whole of the year.
In the nine months to the end of September - which takes into account the collapse of La Senza in July and Phones 4U last month - the number of net closures grew to 964.
Discount stores, betting shops and coffee shops are continuing to edge out traditional shops, including fashion and footwear retailers. In total 365 such shops closed in the first half of 2014.
Mark Hudson, retail leader at PwC, said: “We are now really starting to see the full effects of the digital revolution and consequent change in customer behaviour play out on the high street.
“We’re heading for a high street based around immediate consumption of food, goods and services or distress or convenience purchases.”
Matt Hopkinson, director of the Local Data Company, said many chains were reducing their number of shops to reflect the shift towards online shopping and growing preference towards large retail parks.
He added: “They now want small stores as a local touchpoint or large stores where they can create an experiential environment and really engage with customers. Where once they would have had three stores including one on the high street now they just want one.”