UK high streets lost 20 shops a day last year

Marion Dakers
HIGH street retail chains shut an average of 20 shops a day last year, and the number of closures has rocketed tenfold over the course of 2012, according to research out today.

Retailers in town centres with more than one outlet shuttered a net 1,779 branches last year, up from 174 in 2011, PwC said.

And the pace of closures is speeding up. A string of administrations between December and February 2013 took the daily average to 28, the consultancy said.

Computer game shops were badly hit by the woes of the high street last year, with a 45 per cent net reduction in shops. Game Group went into administration in March 2012, jettisoning half of its branches before being taken over by OpCapita.

Recruitment agencies with a high street presence were also hammered. More than 15 per cent of outlets were lost in 2012, or a net 154 units.

Cheque cashing and payday loan branches, pound shops and pawnbrokers were among the few sectors to open shops during the year, PwC said.

Betting shops, coffee shops and supermarkets also added town centre outlets.

“The failed chains generally shared two problems – too many stores and too little multi-channel activity,” said insolvency partner Mike Jervis.

“A number of them had failed to deal with their underlying issues by hiding behind light touch restructuring processes, especially Company Voluntary Arrangements.”

Greater London lost a net 101 shops during the year, after 1,281 closed and 1,180 opened.