8700 chain stores shut in first-half of 2021

More than 8,700 chain stores disappeared from UK retail locations in the first six months of the year, according to new research.

A PwC report commissioned by the Local Data Company found that during the same period 3,488 shops opened, resulting in a net decline of 5,251 stores.

However, the number of closures fell faster than the number of openings, which means that overall net closure rates were 750 lower than the first-half of 2020.

“After an acceleration in store closures last year coupled with last minute Christmas tier restrictions and lockdowns extending into 2021, we might have expected a higher number of store closures this year,” said Lisa Hooker, consumer markets lead, PwC. “However, operators are far from out of the woods and the next six months will be a make or break for many chains, particularly with the reinstatement of full business rates for all but the smallest operators, the winding-down of furlough support and agreement yet to be reached between many operators and landlords on rent arrears.”

Hooker added: “But the good news is that there are some green shoots of optimism. Consumers still want a physical shopping experience and a number of chain stores and restaurants are opening. There is opportunity for operators who can be nimble, taking advantage of the current situation to either open new stores or to move stores to better locations.”

Despite the slowdown in net closures the flight from cities continues to contribute to the decline in multiple stores, with city centres now faring worse than commuter towns and villages, with a decline of 4.3 per cent vs 3.0 per cent and 2.3 per cent respectively.

Footfall in cities is yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels as more people work from home and in the longer term move towards a hybrid working model.

In London, the City and West End have declined faster than suburban areas which are supported by those working from home visiting their local High Streets.

Regional performance has also reflected the higher number of closures in cities.

For example, South East and East Anglia have been relatively protected, and have been amongst the most resilient regions in the past two years, as commuters have stayed close to home.

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