20,000 UK shops have closed in last decade
More than 20,000 shops have disappeared from Britain’s high streets since 2010, as more and more landlords and property owners choose the repurpose units into homes, restaurants and cafes.
Analysis of official government data conducted by real estate adviser Altus Group has revealed that 20,143 shops have been converted or simply demolished between 2010 and 2019.
Only 14,314 ‘new’ shops have been created during the same period, which means the total number of stores in the UK has fallen by 5,289 between 2010 and 2019. And this number is expected to continue falling, with the Centre for Retail Research forecasting a further decline by 8,500 within the next five years.
Rising business rates, labour costs and low levels of profitability are making it harder for independent retailers and retail chains to survive in an extremely tough market. High street retailers are also facing increased competition from online rivals, which pay lower business rates as their warehouses are usually located out of town.
The figures do not include the shops which are currently vacant and to let. The national town centre vacancy rate climbed to a four year high of 10.2 per cent in April, according to data from the British Retail Consortium, with the number of empty shops totalling 43,302.
“We are witnessing a repurposing of surplus retail space. Over the coming months and years ahead, as retailers continue to reduce their store portfolios with the growth of online shopping, there will be an increase in the intensity of that repurposing,” said Robert Hayton, head of UK business rates at Altus Group.
Professor Joshua Bamfield, director at the Centre for Retail Research, added: “The fact is that business rates, rising labour costs and low levels of profitability are driving retailers out of the sector and this problem will get worse, not better. The Government has done a lot to reduce the impact of business rates upon smaller retailers, but that ignores the major impact that rates have on the larger businesses that face similar problems.”
Retail chains including Marks & Spencer, New Look and Boots have announced store closures across the UK over the past 12 months.
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