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UK Retail Stores Recover From Pandemic Closures

UK Supermarket
UK Supermarket

A new report by an accountancy firm, PwC has shown that there is a fall in the number of chain stores shutting across Britain in the first six months of 2022, reports BBC.

Shop openings are still below pre-Covid levels, but closures are now at their lowest level for seven years.

PwC said the shock of the pandemic had “eased” but warned that high inflation will hit the retail sector.

The firm produced the research in partnership with the Local Data Company (LDC), which tracks over 3,000 locations, including High Streets, retail parks and shopping centres in England, Wales and Scotland.

“The good news is that we’re back on High Streets, there are more people out shopping and eating,” said Kien Tan, director of retail strategy at PwC.

“But the bad news is inflation hangs over us. It will affect shoppers in their pockets it will also affect businesses in terms of higher bills to pay. So there could be more closures to come,” said Mr Tan.

For now, though, the figures are heading in the right direction.

The analysis covers businesses with more than five outlets and includes everything from retail and hospitality to gyms, banks and hairdressers. It does not include independent traders.

More than 6,000 stores closed in the first half of this year, but the numbers are sharply down on the previous 12 months.

Store openings are still lacklustre and below pre-pandemic levels, resulting in an overall loss of more than 2,200 outlets. That is an average closure rate of 12 stores a day, although it is the smallest number of net closures in five years.

Lucy Stainton, commercial director at the LDC, said the trends seen were “hugely varied”.

“Although it has been over two years since the start of the pandemic, we are still yet to define our ‘new normal which is having a sustained impact on city centre locations, with many new openings being focused on smaller market towns and local High Streets as people continue to work from home.

“City centres are further hampered by both train strikes and airport travel disruption reducing tourist numbers,” she added.

In the first half of last year, more than 1,000 clothing shops disappeared as the pandemic pushed a wave of big names, like Philip Green’s Arcadia group, over the edge. This time around, it is betting shops, banks and charity shops that are declining the most.

“Our High Streets are still changing quite dramatically and they will continue to evolve. Banking and betting can all be done online. Restaurant chains are actually back in growth for the first time in five years and that’s because we can’t replace that kind of eating and drinking at home,” said PwC’s Mr Tan.

Written by Adekunle Biodun