Pace of UK town centre shop closures slows

Town centre shops closed down at a rate of 18 a day in the first half of the year
Image caption Town centre shops closed down at a rate of 18 a day in the first half of the year

The pace of shop closures on the High Street has slowed, offering a glimmer of hope for retailers.

Town centre shops closed at a rate of 18 a day in the first half of the year, compared with 20 a day a year ago, according to the study by PwC and the Local Data Company.

Video and photography shops suffered the worst drops, while hearing aid and charity shops opened the most branches.

There was a net reduction of just 209 shops, compared with 953 a year ago.

The study, which looked at 500 town centres, shows the changing profile of the High Street.

There were nearly 500 net closures of clothing, shoe, furniture, photographic and video shops, but net openings of 97 charity shops, 62 cheque cashing outlets, 53 betting shops and 52 grocery convenience stores.

Mike Jervis, insolvency partner and retail specialist at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the accountancy firm that jointly authored the study, said the results were affected by the collapse into administration of photography shop Jessops and video shop Blockbusters.

"The shifts in multiple retailers' store portfolios are a barometer for changes in our society and its habits," he said.

"Upticks in areas such as cheque cashing and pawnbrokers reflect a society where a sizeable part of the population is forced to turn to these types of borrowing for basic needs."

Matthew Hopkinson, director of the Local Data Company, said it was "good news" that the rate of shop closures was slowing down.

"That said, closer examination of the data shows the significant ongoing decline of traditional shops with food, beverage and entertainment taking their place.

"The pressure from online competitors, supermarkets and 'out of town' providers will only increase."

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