A record number of stores disappeared from main streets across the country in the first half of 2020, as Covid-19 lockdowns hammered the retail sector.
A total of 11,120 chain stores closed between January and June, while 5,119 opened. The 6,001 net store closures were a record high, compared to 3,509 in the first half of last year.
Analysts predict there will be many more closures to come, as the data does not include outlets that were temporarily closed under lockdown rules when the analysts visited and could end up being permanently closed.
Figures, released by Local Data Company and consulting firm PwC, show that on average more than 60 stores closed per day while 28 opened. The research covers the main streets, shopping centers and shopping parks in England, Scotland and Wales.
York was the hardest hit, with 55 net store closings in the first six months of the year, followed by Durham (43) and Corby (26).
Store closure data reflects a crisis on Main Street that has cost thousands of jobs as chains, run by already struggling fashion, mobile and betting stores, have closed.
During the period, Carphone Warehouse closed all 531 stand-alone branches and fashion chains such as Oasis, Warehouse, Laura Ashley and Cath Kidston all closed. Big names like Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and House of Fraser have also closed stores.
Lucy Stainton, head of retail and strategic partnerships at Local Data Company, said: The first half of 2020 results are a stark reminder of the challenges retailers face in the first six months of the year, which included a national lockdown. .
She feared this was the tip of the iceberg, with 22% of chain stores still temporarily closed. With every week since retail and hospitality businesses were given the green light to reopen, the likelihood that these occupants are negotiating again in these units decreases.
She added that local lockdowns and other restrictions such as the 10 p.m. curfew would continue to have a devastating impact on the area, with more closures likely after the end of the main commercial holiday season.
Reports state: Unless new government stimulus measures were announced, there was a guarantee that further closures would be scheduled due to factors such as further restrictions on movement, the unwinding of the leave program this month and the end of the reduction in activity rates and VAT reductions for the hotel sector in March.
The data does not cover independent stores, which researchers say have likely seen a resurgence as more people worked from home and shopped locally during the pandemic. The report found that among chains, take-out and cafes were among the high-growth types of stores.
In regional terms, Greater London recorded the highest total number of 1,008 net closings, followed by South East England and North West. But Yorkshire and the Humber had the biggest loss of chain stores in terms of percentage, with 3.4% of net outlets on the verge of disappearing, compared to 2.2% in the east of England, which was the best performing region.
The most affected places were shopping centers.
Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said the pandemic has accelerated existing changes in buying behavior as it forced experimentation during the lockdown.
We all knew that consumers were turning to online shopping or changing their priorities in terms of the products they buy, but what Covid-19 has done is create a radical shift in those underlying trends for become the new normal, she told me. We all want and need to physically visit stores and hobby operators, then it is likely that whatever happens, the retail business will come from this smaller but stronger.
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