The UK high street has lost 83 per cent of its main department stores in the five years following the collapse of the BHS group.
More than two-thirds of these shops remain unoccupied as shoppers have switched to online stores, commercial property information provider CoStar Group found.
Some 237 big stores that were once occupied by retail giants like Debenhams and House of Fraser, were empty as of July 2021.
The largest chains – including Beales, BHS, Debenhams, Dunnes, House of Fraser, John Lewis – had a total of 467 stores in 2016. Now, just 79 remain.
Around 52 of the 237 sites remaining empty have plans for future use or have early planning approval for a change of use or repurposing.
“The data undoubtedly highlights the acceleration of change in the retail sector in recent years, which the pandemic has only exacerbated,” said CoStar Group’s head of analytics, Mark Stansfield, told the BBC.
“We are increasingly seeing forward-thinking real estate owners getting ahead of the problem and reshaping what are key assets in our town centres to provide a focal point for regeneration,” he added.
“I think we’ll see many more plans come to light in the coming months. With these store closures come new opportunities.”