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High street store openings at lowest level in seven years

Research compiled by the Local Data Company (LDC) for PwC, unveiled that an average of 16 high street stores closed every day in 2017, with the second half of the year reporting substantially more closures and less openings than the first.

The report said this reflected a tougher trading environment overall, with a slowdown in consumer spending alongside rising staff and business rates costs.

PwC consumer markets leader Lisa Hooker said: “2017 was tough for the British retail industry. We saw volatility from month to month across different sectors, as wage growth failed to keep up with inflation forcing many shoppers to think more carefully about their spending habits.”

She continued: “Digital offerings are increasingly becoming make or break in areas like fashion. For [this sector], store closures are less driven by the market environment and more by bigger structural changes, as customers increasingly expect to interact with their service providers online or via apps,” she added.

Hooker said 2018 has seen a tough start to the year, but it’s important to remember the British high street still plays a vital role. Almost 4,000 new clothing shops still opened last year, despite 700 closing down.

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