High streets in crisis with nearly 9,000 shops closing in just six months

Nearly 50 chain stores per day closed their doors for good in the first half of the year, a study finds.

A total of 8,739 shops shut across Britain in the six months to June 2021, with 3,488 opening in the same period — a net decrease of 5,251.

The high street was the worst hit with 3,643 net closures.

Shopping centres saw a fall of 1,464 stores, while retail parks lost 636 outlets.

But the rate of closures slowed compared with the first six months of 2020, a survey by the Local Data Company for accountancy firm PwC found.

As the Covid crisis began to bite more than a year ago, 11,120 shops closed for a net decrease of 6,001.

Lisa Hooker, leader of industry for consumer markets at PwC, said state support — such as the furlough scheme, business rates relief and pandemic support loans — had been a ‘lifeline’ that helped many operators stay afloat.

But she warned: ‘The next six months will be make or break for many, particularly with the winding down of furlough and the need for agreement on rent arrears.’

Uncertainty over further lockdowns in the future and the introduction of vaccine passports also pose threats, particularly to the hospitality sector, she added.

The study surveyed more than 200,000 stores operated by businesses with more than five branches across Britain, including retail, restaurants, banks, cafes and gyms.

Fashion retailers were worst affected, with 1,063 stores closing, ahead of charity shops with 452 closures.

London went from being the best-performing region in 2016 to the worst across the past two years, with 2.9 per cent of closures.

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