17,000 new High Street stores to open in next 12-months

New research has found that up to 17,000 High Street stores could open in the next year.

Data from Barclays Corporate Banking shows that consumers have returned to physical stores with confidence since restrictions started to ease, with 68 per cent saying they have felt safe to return to the High Street.

According to the study, 40 per cent of the nation are planning on stepping up their in-store shopping over the coming year, while a further 41 per cent say that it is their favourite way to shop.

But the benefits are more likely to be seen in local High Streets rather than big cities.

The report reveals that home and hybrid working patterns will persist into 2022 for more than two fifths of workers, with 16 per cent expecting to work entirely from home, and 28 per cent anticipating a part-home, part-office model.

A quarter of consumers now say the best way a retailer can appeal to them is to open stores in their local area.

The research, based on results derived from a survey of 306 senior retail managers, found that 18 per cent of retail businesses with 10 or more employees are eyeing community store openings, with each of them looking at five new premises on average.

This is based on a parliament briefing paper which estimates that there are 310,000 retail businesses in the UK, 6 per cent of which have more than 10 employees (18,600 businesses). In Barclays’ research, 18 per cent say they are targeting new local stores in the next 12 months = 3,348 businesses. 3,348 x five stores, on average, each = 16,740 local store openings being targeted in next 12 months.

The figures show that 29 per cent of retailers are looking to entice more people back to physical stores by laying on experiences like concerts and exhibitions.

Since re-opening, over half of retailers are seeing an increase in the average spend of customers, with average purchases up 9 per cent on pre-pandemic levels.

The most in-demand items, according to 45 per cent of retailers, are products that promote a healthy lifestyle.

Retailers are overwhelmingly optimistic about future growth, with 80 per cent confident of growth over the next 12 months, including 41 per cent who are very confident.

“Our report shows how innovative UK retail businesses are looking to build back better to meet the challenges of a reshaped and revitalised retail landscape,” said Karen Johnson, head of retail and wholesale for Barclays Corporate Banking. “E-commerce has been the undisputed winner of the pandemic but not far behind are community high streets, as shoppers seek to ‘look local’ and support the stores on their doorstep.”

Johnson added: “With the continuation of home working, this shows no sign of slowing down, and retailers are now looking at evaluating their store estates to meet local demand.”

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