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Net decline in retail stores reaches record level

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.

This is the largest recorded half-year net decline in these stores since the research began. A total of 1,123 closed, while store openings were at a record low of 1,569, as a result of a lack of confidence in the high street.

The retail and leisure sectors of the high street were particularly affected. The growth in online shopping, the shift to in-home leisure, and the continued digitalisation of services were cited as reasons for the decline.

A total of 121 fashion shops closed across the top 500 high streets between January and July this year, while 99 opened.

In fashion accessories, 26 stores closed and only 18 opening during the period.

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said: “Looking ahead, the turmoil facing the sector is unlikely to abate. Store closures in the second half [stemming from] administrations and company voluntary arrangements already announced will further intensify the situation.

“The British high street is in urgent need of new ways of thinking and new forms of retail. Encouraging this should be a priority. However, it remains to be seen if recent packages of support for the high street and reductions in business rates for smaller retailers will be sufficient to stimulate this.”

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