High streets lost 1,772 stores last year

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The high street is shrinking with 16 stores closing each day in 2017 while only 11 stores were being opened, according to research by PwC.

As a result there was a net loss of 1,772 stores from town centres during the year.

And the mix of shops is changing. Beauty product stores, speciality coffee shops, ice cream parlours and booksellers all bucked trend with net increases in stores. In contrast, there were falls in the number of banks, estate agents and travel agents reflecting the move in these sectors to online.

Research compiled by the Local Data Company for PwC found that the number of new high street stores opening in 2017 fell to 4,083, from 4,534 in 2016.

The second half of 2017 saw substantially more closures and less openings than the first six months of the year, reflecting a tough trading environment.

5,855 outlets closed on Great Britain’s high streets in 2017, at a rate of 16 stores a day, a slight increase on the 15 stores a day closing in 2016

“We’ve seen a tough start to 2018, but it’s important to remember the British high street still plays a vital role in society and there are elements of growth among the headline numbers of decline. For example, almost 400 new clothes shops opened last year, even though over 700 closed. And, while four pubs a week closed, at the same time three a week opened,” said Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC.“Retailers and leisure operators need to continue looking at their businesses – including their store portfolios – to make sure they have a clear brand and product offering. The winners at the moment, such as nail bars, coffee shops, bookstores and craft beer pubs, are all flourishing because they serve the needs of emerging consumer segments, such as experience-seeking millennials and offer a differentiated physical proposition that online offerings can’t compete with.”

* Carpetright has set out plans to close 92 of its 426 UK stores and negotiate rent reductions on another 113 in a proposed company voluntary arrangement.

It also wants to raise some £60 million through an equity capital raising to reduce debts and cover the CVA costs.

In a statement, the company said: “A comprehensive review of the company’s property portfolio has identified 205 sites in the UK that are underperforming and/or on unfavourable lease terms, or, in certain cases, not expected to have significant strategic value to the company going forward.”

It will seek creditor approval of the CVA proposal at a meeting to be held on 26th April.

Chief executive Wilf Walsh said: “These tough but necessary actions will enable us to address the burden of a legacy UK property estate consisting of too many poorly located stores on unsustainable rents and are essential if we are to restore our profitability and deliver a successful turnaround. Carpetright has engaged fully with the British Property Federation on the detail of the CVA Proposal and we thank them for their constructive approach.

“Completion of the CVA and equity financing will enable us to establish an appropriately-sized estate of modernised stores, on economic rents, complemented with a compelling online offer, enabling Carpetright to address the competitive threat from a position of strength.”

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