83% of UK department stores disappear

Eight in ten – 83 per cent - of UK department stores have disappeared in the past five years.

The data, compiled by commercial property information group CoStar for the BBC, said that the number of major department store branches had fallen from 467 to 79 in the past five years.

The research tracked the UK’s largest department stores chains, including BHS, Beales, Debenhams and House of Fraser, from 2016 to now.

Of the 388 department stores that have closed two-thirds - 237 - of these remain vacant according to CoStar.

However, the information group said that there were plans to repurpose or change the use of 52 of the closed branches.

The reduction in department store outlets has been reflected in job losses; John Lewis announced it would cut 1,000 jobs in July.

The news comes as Amazon is reportedly eyeing a move into the department store space in the US; the e-commerce giant may be planning to open stores in California and Ohio.

"The data undoubtedly highlights the acceleration of change in the retail sector in recent years, which the pandemic has only exacerbated," said Mark Stansfield, head of analytics at CoStar Group. "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."

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