National retail chains are leaving the high street at double the rate of last year as women’s fashion stores, building societies and pawnbrokers close their doors to trading.The number of closures during the first half of this year was set at around 16 per day. This was a slight decline on the 18 per day which occurred during the first half of 2013, however the number of store openings declined by 15%. This means that the number of empty stores has doubled.
This new information forms part of an analysis of the top 500 UK towns by Local Data Company (LDC), a research firm, along with PwC, accountants. Over the period around 400 shops have been left empty. This is more than the figure for the whole of 2013.
The only areas to see a decline in the number of empty stores were London and the east of England. The hardest hit was the north-west, west midlands and east midlands.
The hardest hit industry was the pawnbrokers, which is in sharp contrast to past years when they remained settled in the high street. There was a reduction of 7% in pawnbroker stores, which is the third highest after video rental and building societies.
A fall in the gold price and the availability of alternative methods to raise cash, such as Wonga payday lenders, has caused the downturn for pawnbrokers.
A survey undertaken by Experian indicated that the number of tattoo parlors and convenience stores has almost tripled over the past decade, while women’s wear stores and travel agents were declining rapidly and video rental stores have almost completely disappeared.
According to LDC, many large retailers have reduced the number of outlets to account for shopper preference for online shopping and visiting large retail parks.
They stated that the general outlook for the high street was better than the figures suggested as spare space was being snapped up by independent retailers. The figures, due for release on Monday, will show an increase in the number of independent stores, which will bring a steady level to the number of stores standing empty on Britain’s high streets.