Womenswear multiples were amongst the retailers to suffer the most closures last year, with a 7.2% net decline in the number of stores on the British high street.
Administrations and closures saw the number of women’s clothing multiples drop by 175 in total over the year according to figures compiled by Local Data Company and PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
General clothing also suffered, with 120 stores shutting, equivalent to 8.7%.
In total, town centres saw a 2.7% decline in the number of multiple retailers, equivalent to a net reduction of 1,779 stores. This compares to a decline of 174 in 2011.
Meanwhile payday loans or cheque-cashing businesses were the fastest growing multiple category, with 121 net stores opening last year, a rise of 20%. Within independents, barbers won out, growing store presence by 130, or 6%.
Mike Jervis, insolvency partner and retail specialist at PwC, said: “2012 saw more retail chains go into insolvency than ever before. The failed chains generally shared two problems- too many stores and too little multi-channel activity. A number of them had failed to deal with their underlying issues by hiding behind light touch restructuring processes, especially Company Voluntary Arrangements. 2013 has seen the downward trend become even worse.”
Matthew Hopkinson, director of The Local Data Company, noted the total number of closures amounted to a space equivalent to 131 football pitches or just over four Westfield Londons.
“We can expect to see this trend continue and indeed accelerate in 2013 as more leases come up for renewal along with the ever increasing demands from consumers for space that delivers an experience good enough to pull them away from their technology devices,” he said. “The end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 has seen the most dramatic period on record as companies controlling more than 1,400 shops went into administration.”
Tomorrow the LDC, along with Bira, will release figures showing the state of the British independent in 2012.