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Almost 10,000 retail stores closed in UK

Christian Fernsby |
In total, 7,655 shops opened in the UK, compared to 17,532 closures, a net decline of 9,877, according to PwC research compiled by the Local Data Company (LDC).

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Although a decline was to be expected in a pandemic, this is the worst ever seen with an average of 48 chain stores closing every day, and only 21 opening. The findings are bleak compared to five years ago in 2015, which saw net decline of just over 1,000, 50% more openings and 25% fewer closures than 2020.

Retail parks have seen the smallest number of net closures of any location (453), compared to high streets (4,690) and shopping centres (1,791). Footfall was already holding up better in retail parks before the pandemic due to their investment in leisure and some retail parks have benefitted by being anchored by essential retailers that have remained open, even during the tightest restrictions.

Shopping centres by contrast, are often poorly located for consumers who want to shop local and travel less to city centres, and are more likely to host fashion retailers and chain restaurants, which are the number one and three most hard-hit categories for net closure in 2020. Meanwhile, the drop off in high-street footfall has affected those multiple retailers located on high streets, particularly those in large city centres, although this decline in multiples has been partly offset by growth in interest of local and independent operators.

Small towns, which have long been in decline at the expense of more populous areas and cities, are now also enjoying a mini-renaissance. The research suggests that consumers now want to shop in these locations, and larger retailers want to be there.

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