One in five shops to disappear from UK high streets by 2018

Kasmira Jefford
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ONE IN five shops are expected to vanish from Britain’s high streets over the next five years as operating costs outstrip consumer spending and online retailing continues to thrive, a report released yesterday warns.

The Centre for Retail Research (CRR) forecasts that the total number of UK retail stores will slump by 22 per cent over the next five years from 281,930 today to 220,000 in 2018.

More than 316,000 people could lose their jobs as a result, the CRR said, causing the UK’s jobless rate to soar by almost 13 per cent.

Professor Joshua Bamfield, the author of the Retail Futures 2018 report, said Britain’s fragile retail sector is facing “a crisis”.

Consumer spending has risen by just 12 per cent since 2006, dwarfed by operating costs which have grown by 20 per cent (£20bn) to £116bn in the same period.

Without action, Bamford says vacancy rates could double in the next five years to 24 per cent.

The report also calls for £320m to be spent turning empty shops into a mix of service or leisure outlets, offices or classrooms.

Bamfield predicts that a further 164 companies will collapse into administration by 2018, taking 22,600 stores and 140,000 employees with them.