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Sixteen shops are closing down EVERY DAY fuelling fears our high streets are becoming ghost towns

Sixteen shops are closing down EVERY DAY fuelling fears our high streets are becoming ghost towns due to sky-high rents and the rise of online retail

  • More than a hundred High Street shops are closing every week, study shows
  • Pubs, bars and restaurants closed at a high rate as did estate agents and banks
  • The situation could get worse as fashion stores run ‘panic sales’ on autumn stock

High-street chains are closing outlets at a record rate of 16 a day in ghost town Britain.

Sky-high rates, parking charges and a shift to online shopping are devastating bricks-and-mortar businesses.

Big names such as House of Fraser, Marks & Spencer, Prezzo and Jamie’s Italian shut 2,868 outlets in the first six months of the year – 110 a week.

The closure rate is the highest since the Local Data Company and PwC started the survey in 2010. Store openings resulted in a net decline of 1,234.

The research shows the biggest decline in chain stores involved fashion retailers such as LK Bennett, New Look and Blue Inc. Pubs, bars and restaurants also closed at a high rate as did estate agents and banks [File photo]

The situation may worsen because fashion stores have been running ‘panic sales’ on autumn stock. 

Topshop, River Island, Debenhams and New Look have offered flash discounts of up to 40 per cent.

PwC said the figures suggested that high streets would need to be redesigned, with stores converted into homes or community facilities such as gyms.

‘Store closures have primarily been the result of restructuring and the migration of shopping and services online,’ said Lisa Hooker, a consumer analyst at the accountancy firm.

Big names such as House of Fraser, Marks & Spencer, Prezzo and Jamie’s Italian shut 2,868 outlets in the first six months of the year – 110 a week. The closure rate is the highest since the Local Data Company and PwC started the survey in 2010. Store openings resulted in a net decline of 1,234 [File photo]

Big names such as House of Fraser, Marks & Spencer, Prezzo and Jamie’s Italian shut 2,868 outlets in the first six months of the year – 110 a week. The closure rate is the highest since the Local Data Company and PwC started the survey in 2010. Store openings resulted in a net decline of 1,234 [File photo]

‘The record net decline in store numbers in the first half of 2019 shows there’s been no let-up in the changing ways that people shop and the cost pressures affecting high street operators. We may need fewer high streets in the future. This opens up opportunities to repurpose space for other uses.’

The research shows the biggest decline in chain stores involved fashion retailers such as LK Bennett, New Look and Blue Inc. Pubs, bars and restaurants also closed at a high rate as did estate agents and banks.

The Daily Mail has repeatedly highlighted the crisis in the retail sector, which threatens to ruin many of the country’s town centres

 The Daily Mail has repeatedly highlighted the crisis in the retail sector, which threatens to ruin many of the country’s town centres

However chicken shops, which are often blamed for fostering childhood obesity, grew in number.

Greater London had the biggest number of chain closures with a net fall of 326, ahead of the South East at 167, the South West at 123, the East of England at 118 and the West Midlands on 113.

The closures relate only to the UK’s 500 most popular shopping streets and do not include the many thousands of independent stores lost elsewhere.

The Daily Mail has repeatedly highlighted the crisis in the retail sector and has led calls to reform a business rates system under which high street retailers often pay more than internet-based firms.

Helen Dickinson of the British Retail Consortium said: ‘Stuck between weak demand thanks to Brexit uncertainty, and rising costs resulting from business rates and other public policy costs, many retailers are struggling. The Government should take the opportunity to reduce the heavy cost burden holding back retail investment.’

Zelf Hussain of PwC said the period running up to Christmas would be crucial for high street operators.

He added: ‘For many retailers right-sizing store portfolios and wider cost bases will be crucial.’

Sainsbury’s scraps its till-free store

Sainsbury’s has axed a no-till trial, admitting customers were not ready for it.

The experiment started at a Local store in Holborn, central London, on April 29 with shoppers having to scan products and pay for them through a mobile app.

But the supermarket chain has reintroduced tills, one of them manned, for those wanting to pay by cash or card.

Frustrated customers had been queueing at the store’s helpdesk to try to pay. Sainsbury’s admitted ‘not all our customers are ready for a totally till-free store’.

It added: ‘This is why we have added a manned till and two self-checkouts back into the store so those looking to pay by cash and card can do so quickly and conveniently.

‘It’s really important to us that our customers cay pay how they want to.’

Shoppers can use the SmartShop technology in nine other stores in London, where tills are also available. 

The experiment started at a Local store in Holborn, central London, on April 29 with shoppers having to scan products and pay for them through a mobile app

The experiment started at a Local store in Holborn, central London, on April 29 with shoppers having to scan products and pay for them through a mobile app 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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