UK store closures slowed in first half, but fashion still suffers
The good news is that chain store closures across Britain have seen a big fall in the last six months and are at their lowest level for seven years, new figures from accountancy firm PwC show.
And the bad news? Fashion retail chains are continuing to close, albeit not as fast as charity shops, banks/financing and betting shops. In the first half of last year, more than 1,000 clothing stores disappeared.
And the report also warned that although the shock of the pandemic had “eased", inflation will hit the retail sector, so closure numbers are set to rise yet again.
The research, produced with the Local Data Company (LDC), also showed overall store openings are still below pre-pandemic levels, resulting in a net loss of more than 2,200 outlets. That’s an average closure rate of 12 stores a day, but at least it’s the smallest number of net closures in five years.
Overall, closures in the first six months of 2022 dropped by a third yea on year, PwC said. Store openings are still below pre-Covid levels, but closures are at their lowest level for seven years, it noted.
The analysis covers high streets, retail parks and shopping centres across the UK and includes businesses with more than five outlets. But it doesn’t include independent traders, which are likely to bear the brunt of an impending recession.
Lucy Stainton, commercial director at the LDC, said it may be over two years since the start of the pandemic, but “we are still yet to define our 'new normal' which is having a sustained impact on city centre locations, with many new openings being focused on smaller market towns and local High Streets as people continue to work from home. City centres are further hampered by both train strikes and airport travel disruption reducing tourist numbers.”
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