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UK Watched 6,000 High Street Shops Shut Down in 2017

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Last year brought more high street shop closures to the U.K. than any year since 2010.

The weak British Pound and internet shopping with higher wages and lower consumer confidence blamed.

A Tough Year

In 2017, 5,855 high street stores closed in the United Kingdom. This represented a figure higher than any year since 2010. This wasn’t just limited to one or two types of business. Instead, clothing and shoe retailers, real estate agents and travel agents have all found locked their doors for good.

A number of factors are to blame. While the increase in online shopping is among them, the situation specific to the U.K. helps to show why the closure rate is strikingly high in the country.

Among the stores that shut down were 1,700 chain shops, said the Local Data Company (LDC) in its recent data analysis. LDC analyzed the top 500 U.K. towns in order to obtain their data on behalf of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Open and Shut

Throughout 2017, an average of 11 stores opened per day. On the other hand, an average of 16 shut down per day. The data does not include the rate of launches and closure among independent shops.

The stores hardest hit last year were those selling fashion and footwear. This situation was particularly bad, where consumers have been reducing their non-essential spending. That trend is the result of rising food prices, partly because of the plummeting value of the British Pound following 2016’s Brexit vote.

Spending Down

Over the last two years, spending on clothing and footwear dropped by around 2 percent, says Kantar analyst data. Spiking online spending growth was paralleled by falling in-store sales.

Equally, there was an overall increase in the number of beauty stores last year. Bookstores, coffee shops, cafes, and ice cream shops also rose in number in 2017, says LDC data.

The second half of the year saw a dramatic rise in the rate of closures. This was a reflection of the transition toward online shopping in combination with rising costs of brick-and-mortar business and staffing. That trend was poorly timed, as shoppers were already scaling back their non-essential spending. Consumers have been choosing not to shop as consumer confidence had fallen to a four-year low by December.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Alvexo on the matter.