British high streets lost 14 stores a day in 2015, though the rate of closure has slowed to its lowest level in five years, research out today shows.
Around 5,138 shops closed down in town centres in 2015 compared with 5,839 in the previous year, according to data from PwC and the Local Data Company (LDC).
Bank branches and cheque cashing shops were particularly badly hit as well as clothing chains, convenience stores and mobile phone shops – the latter led by the collapse of Phones 4U.
However, this was offset by 4,640 new openings last year, taking the net number of store losses to 498 compared with 987 in 2014.
This is the lowest closure rate in five years since the peak in 2012, when 20 stores were closing on average each day, PwC and LDC said.
It also represents the lowest levels of churn – entries and exits – since 2010 as retailers adapt to changing consumer shopping habits.
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.”
Coffee shops led the rise in new store openings last year thanks to chains such as Whitbread-owned Costa, which plans to open an extra 500 UK stores by 2020. In total, the number of coffee shops increased by four per cent – or 80 units last year.
More jewellery shops, takeaway food branches and tobacconists also populated the high street last year.
“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. The closures reflect ongoing structured changes in retail banking and the higher regulatory hurdles facing so called money shops,” Jervis said.
He added that anecdotal evidence showed that retailers choosing not to renew their leases was also adding to store closures, with the trend set to continue as more leases expire.