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Shop closures slow but fashion still a struggle

The rate of shop closures across the UK fell to its lowest level in five years in 2015 thanks to improving consumer confidence and the rebound in the economy - but it remains a challenging time to be a fashion retailer. 

British high streets lost 14 stores per day in 2015, down from 16 the year before, according to PwC and The Local Data Company.

Women’s clothing shops were among the hardest hit last year, with a net decline of 97 units during the year, while fashion overall recorded a net fall of 82 stores. Coffee shops, jewellers and takeaway food retailers enjoyed a net rise in units.

Looking at 2016 so far, the research noted a net decline of 217 units across the top 500 town centres. This was driven by the administrations of retailers such as Brantano UK.

Mike Jervis, insolvency partner and head of deals retail specialist at PwC, said: “The lower rate of closures in 2015 reflects optimism amongst retailers and indeed most consumer confidence indices support this. In addition, retail insolvencies are at an historical low.

“The openings are concentrated on experience type outlets, especially food and beverage and I’d also expect to see more growth in discount store openings this year. Fashion has taken another battering and the closures testify to the proliferations of “me too” retailers in this sub-sector, especially ladies fashion.”

Matthew Hopkinson, director of The Local Data Company, said: “While stability has returned overall for the chain retailers in our high streets the fact remains that they have continued to close more shops than they open and have done so since 2011 with out of town locations being a destination of choice for many with free parking, easy access and more space to service and deliver the experiences that the modern consumer demands.”

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