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Wednesday, 10 April 2019

The UK High Street Lost 2,481 Shops Last Year, As Debenhams Collapse Risks Further Job Losses And Experts Warn It Is 'Only The Tip Of The Iceberg'

Debenhams was tore into over the weekend and the board of the chain was called to be investigated. Stock  image
The crisis on the high street is laid bare today as stark figures show a record number of shop closures across Britain.

Just hours after Debenhams fell into administration, a new report by PwC reveals 5,833 shops shut in 2018, but only 3,372 were opened.

It meant there was an overall loss of 2,481 stores, the biggest annual decline on record.

Debenhams plans to close 50 of its 166 stores, and household names including Marks & Spencer, Topshop owner Arcadia, New Look and Boots are also shutting shops.

The figures from PwC come just days after a report by estate agent Knight Frank showed one in eight UK shops is lying empty.


Retail analyst Richard Hyman said: ‘This is just the tip of the iceberg. We’re going to see the number of store closures accelerating. There are simply too many shops that are unviable.

‘They are facing rising costs but sales are only standing still at best. It’s no wonder we’re seeing shop closures across the country.’
Just hours after Debenhams fell into administration, a new report by PwC reveals 5,833 shops shut in 2018, but only 3,372 were opened.  Stock image
The crisis on the high street is laid bare today as stark figures show a record number of shop closures across Britain. 
The crisis has been highlighted by the Daily Mail’s Save Our High Streets campaign, which calls for an overhaul of the business rates system to level the playing field between bricks-and-mortar shops and online rivals.

Last night the British Retail Consortium warned the situation would only get worse unless ministers stepped in to ease the ‘immense cost pressures’ shops face, including crippling business rates.

Chief executive Helen Dickinson said: ‘It is no accident that the retail sector is losing jobs and stores while the raft of business costs continue to expand.

‘Retail is undergoing a period of unprecedented change in response to new technologies and changing consumer behaviour. To successfully navigate this transformation, firms must invest – but this is only possible if they have the resources.

‘Unless the Government reforms the broken business rates system and looks to review the multitude of business costs, we are likely to see further store closures and job losses.’

Dave Lewis, the boss of supermarket giant Tesco, last month called for a levy on internet retailers that could fund a 20 per cent cut in business rates shops were forced to pay.

John Timpson, chairman of Timpson and author of the Government’s High Street Report, said: ‘Business rates need to be fairer between online and bricks-and-mortar retailing, it’s not a level playing field.

‘I’m not sure whether the Government don’t want to make it work or don’t know how to make it work.’

PwC said 16 stores closed per day in 2018, the same rate as the previous year, but the number of openings fell.

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