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UK store closures are at slowest rate since 2021, according to new report

By Rachel Douglass


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Image: Durham high street, UK. Image: Unsplash

A new report has found that store closures in the UK are currently at their slowest rate since 2014, with net closures also at their lowest level in five years.

Latest figures by PwC, developed alongside the Local Data company, found that in 2022 a total of 11,530 chain outlets exited UK high streets, shopping centres and retail parks, a drop on the 2021 figure of 17,219.

This is an equivalent to 32 closures per day, a lower number than the nearly 50 per day that were closing during the pandemic.

Additionally, new store opening numbers have also improved, with 7,903 openings this year – 22 per day – making it the highest since 2019.

Net closures are now sitting at minus 10 per day, PwC further noted, the lowest rate since 2016.

While high streets are experiencing slightly lower recovery levels with a minus 2.6 percent closure rate, retail parks came out as most resilient at minus 0.3 percent.

Shopping centres have also bounced back in 2022, with a minus 1.6 percent closure rate triggered by acquisitive brands opening units across various destinations.

In terms of regional recovery, margins have also narrowed. In comparison to the UK average of minus 1.7 percent, the West Midlands saw a closure rate of minus 2.3 percent while the South East saw a rate of minus 1.3 percent, showing a positive turnaround for London which had been at the centre of a turbulent environment during the pandemic.

Rent levels normalise and fashion sees significant reduction in closures

Fashion as an individual category saw only 228 net closures in 2022, an over 80 percent reduction compared to the previous year.

In a release, Lisa Hooker, industry leader for consumer markets at PwC, said: “It is great to see how retail and leisure operators are increasing in confidence and investing back into bricks and mortar after a few years of uncertainty across the sector.

“We are seeing innovative store openings including services and the use of technology that delights the consumer and appeals to the younger shopper who tells us they still love stores.

“While high streets are also recovering well, the need to coordinate a fragmented landlord base and others with vested interests, alongside the type of occupant, means a slightly slower recovery.

“Rent levels have also normalised, and with changes to the business rates due to come in April, this should also encourage new openings across many locations, adding to the impressive bounceback of retail parks, shopping centres and the growth of local entrepreneurship.”

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