Fewer High Street shops closing down

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The number of High Street shops closing down has fallen to its lowest level in seven years, research suggests.

The Local Data Company, which studied the top 500 British town centres, said 2,564 outlets closed in the first half of 2017, equivalent to 14 a day.

At the same time, there were 2,342 store openings, meaning that a net total of 222 High Street shops disappeared.

Charity shops, women’s clothes shops and shoe shops were worst hit, it said.

However, general fashion stores, banks and cheque cashing shops saw their lowest number of net closures in three years.

Some sectors actually recorded growth, with tobacconists, coffee shops and beauty salons increasing in number.

Ice-cream parlours are also on the up, thanks to expansion by the Ben & Jerry’s and Kaspa’s chains.

‘Uncertain’ outlook

Mike Jervis, a retail specialist at PwC which commissioned the research, said the “relatively low” number of closures over the period reflected a “more stable environment”.

However, he warned: “The environment is, of course, uncertain, with recent data showing a more challenging retail environment. I expect net store closures to be an ongoing feature of the market.

“Retailers will choose specific closure stores very carefully and will aim to capitalise on leases expiring in the ordinary course of their businesses.”

The store closures were unevenly spread across the country. Scotland fared worst, with a net loss of 42 shops, while eastern England lost 34.

Only two out of 11 British regions showed net gains: Yorkshire and the Humber, which added 12 shops, and the East Midlands, which now has eight more shops.

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