The gap between the number of stores closing and those opening on the UK’s top 500 high streets has reached record levels, new research for PwC compiled by the Local Data Company has shown.
A record net 2,481 stores disappeared in 2018, compared to a net loss of 1,1772 in 2017. This is the largest full year net decline in stores, as the deficit breaches 2,400 for the first time.
In total, 3,372 shops opened in 2018, compared with 5,833 closures.
The number of store openings by multiple retailers has dropped by 17.4% year on year. The current rate of openings is nine stores per day, compared with 16 stores per day in 2013.
The rate of store closures in 2018 remained at 16 stores a day, the same as 2017.
The research found 616 fashion retail stores closed in 2018, while 347 opened.
Zelf Hussain, retail restructuring partner at PwC, said: “Several national chains weathered company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) or administrations as retailers toiled in the tough climate of 2018. Retail companies looking to survive let alone flourish in 2019 face an uphill battle.
“We have already seen several casualties in 2019 and there will undoubtedly be more, most likely in all categories except for groceries. Those retailers who will give themselves the best chance of survival must focus on having the relevant proposition, and the investments needed to deliver this proposition; the optimal mix of channels and business portfolio; flexible leases.
“Additionally, we believe CVAs are not the answer in isolation. Companies need solutions that fully address customer needs, represent sustainable cost savings and, if needed new money investment to bridge the lag between the cost of a restructuring and long-term performance improvements.”