New report finds the North-west the worst struck for empty stores, despite an overall improvement for vacancy rates.
Reports that small retailers are leading growth on the high street could be wide of mark, according to some retail bodies. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), small retailers recorded an 8.1 per cent rise in sales in December. Overall, retail sales rose 2.6 per cent month-on-month in December – well ahead of the 0.2 per cent forecasted by the City – reversing the misery of slow sales in October and November.
New research finds struggling retailers in the UK closed 32 stores a day in July and August, as over-expansion and inflexible terms with landlords forced companies to close the doors on their high street locations. The results from Local Data Company (LDC) on behalf of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found a huge step up from last year’s levels, when only 174 stores closed for the whole of 2011.
The Local Data Company (LDC) has pledged its support of the Portas Pilots project, and will be providing key metrics for the first round of high street trialists. Twelve towns across the country have been chosen to share the £1 million grant of government funds to help rejuvinate their town centres.
A survey of 500 town centres conducted by the Local Data Company has found that chain stores are closing at increasing rates, only to be replaced by smaller, independent retailers.
Retail chains in the UK closed an average of 14 stores per day in 2011 as retailers exited more shops than they opened for the first time ever.
Shop vacancy rates stabilized in 2011 but the gap between the best and worst towns had widened.
The figures demonstrate that 14.5 per cent of shops remain empty. The report, carried out by the Local Data Company, highlights the significant divide the North and South. The average vacancy rate in the south stands at 11 per cent or below while in the Midlands and the North rates push closer to 13 per cent in the former and 16 per cent in the latter.
The top ten worst performing centres are in the West Midlands and the North while seven out of the top ten best centres are in the South.
Medium sized retail centres performed far better than their larger counterparts, averaging 14 per cent in comparison to the 17 per cent in their larger cousins.
New research published this morning by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows just how much the consumer downturn is affecting the UK’s high streets and retailers, with 20 stores on average closing every day.
In the second quarter of 2011 alone 375 retailers were forced to shut up shop for good, an increase of 9 percent from the same period last year.
According to the figures compiled by the Local Data Company, specialist clothing, shoes and jewellers were hardest hit this year, as retailers closed around 4,000 stores in the first five months of 2011. Although some of the closures were cancelled out by strong expansion for supermarkets, pawnbrokers and coffee shops, national vacancies still stand at 14.5 percent.
"High streets are at the heart of local communities and economies, providing jobs and essential services, but some are in trouble.” Stephen Robertson, director of the British Retail Consortium told press. “These figures are further evidence of the tough trading conditions being experienced by non-food retailers in particular. The government's review of the high street must result in urgent action."
Robertson went onto add that, "It's encouraging that not all regions are seeing a fall in retail premises; some have seen a net gain thanks to new stores opening. The priority must be protecting that growth and helping it spread to all parts of the country, boosting town centres and creating jobs."
RSM Tenon has warned more than one in eight retailers are in “imminent danger” of closure.
The insolvency practitioner said 67,000 companies were in danger of failing. The Times says even those that are surviving are looking to reduce rent bills by closing stores. The Local Data Company says more than 14% of town centre shops are empty.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers cautioned that companies with mediocre management or that bought the wrong stock at the wrong time of year were “probably toast”.
According to Estates Gazette troubleshooter Mary Portas will discuss the state of the British high street with Tesco chief executive Richard Brasher today.
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