More stores closed than opened in 2014, with high street store closures reaching 16 a day, as competition from online retailers continues to bite.
Almost three times as many stores have disappeared compared with 2013, according to new research from The Local Data Company (LDC) and PwC.
The report found that traditional goods shops, including clothing and footwear retailers, were the hardest hit, with 765 shops pulling down the shutters for the final time last year. Service retail, such as opticians and travel agents, saw a further net decline of 457 shops, while leisure stores, which include food, drink and entertainment, continued to thrive but at a slower rate. There were an additional 233 stores in 2014, compared to an extra 311 in 2013.
Mike Jervis, insolvency partner and retail specialist at PwC, said: “This year’s numbers expose the harsh impact of ‘macro’ changes on the high street, especially in certain sub-sectors. Regulation has blindsided the money shops, the advance of technology has hammered some phone operators and the internet continues to dent the clothing sector.
“Despite the benign economy, the net loss of shops has accelerated.”
The research found that there was a net loss of 98 women’s clothing stores, which equates to a net change of 7.14%, and 55 men’s clothing stores at a rate of 8.8%.
Mark Hudson, retail leader at PwC, said: “We’re again seeing the continued effects of the digital revolution and consequent change in customer behaviour play out on the high street – these trends have been with us for some time and we should expect the rate of closures to continue.
“Rather than try to recreate the past, the high street needs to evolve to be relevant to the future.”
The West Midlands saw the greatest net change, followed by the East Midlands, the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber.
Matthew Hopkinson, director of The Local Data Company, said: “This analysis shows the second most significant annual decline in chain retailers in our town centres – a net loss of 987 stores versus the all-time high of 2012 when 1,779 units pulled down the shutters for the last time. This is an increase of 266% compared with the net closure of 371 shops in 2013.”