This is the last Stores column of 2012 and the normal modus operandi at this stage is to look back at what’s been and to anticipate what’s to come.

This is the last Stores column of 2012 and the normal modus operandi at this stage is to look back at what’s been and to anticipate what’s to come. Well, as far as the reviewing bit is concerned 2012 must be seen as a good year. Whether it’s Burberry at the top end or Kiddicare somewhat further down the scale, there has been much to commend from a store interiors perspective.

There have however been a massive number of stores that have gone to the wall this year and not many to replace them, meaning that the net store tally is severely negative. The effect for those that have stayed the course has been simple – competitors may have disappeared, but this does not mean the trading climate has become any more benign. Indeed, things have become rather more red of tooth and claw and this has meant sharper looking shops and no let-up in the pace of store refurbishment.

The real difference between 2012 and other years is that the new store pipeline has looked particularly empty. The realisation has dawned that large store portfolios have needed updating and that far from being a positive, adding new shops is a potential burden – especially as the on-line demon becomes ever more visible.

All of which adds up to a lot more work for design companies. But here too, there have probably been rather more than are needed for the quantity of retail design work that has been on offer. Those that had regular clients, think Twelve for Sainbury’s or perhaps the raft of agencies used by Morrisons, have probably had a reasonable time of it. There have been plenty however who have found the last twelve months problematical.

And of course, there have been real losers. Comet’s interiors looked, at times, as if they had given up – which has had inevitable consequences. The need for in-store investment has rarely seemed more pressing.

But what of 2013? It is the curse of the end of year columnist that the demand is felt to read the runes and make some kind of prediction about what’s in-store. And perhaps the safest thing to say at this stage is not much will change. Land Securities’ Trinity Leeds scheme will finally come to fruition in the first half of the year and this will doubtless mean a bevvy of good-looking stores. Other than that however, there is not much on the horizon. Fewer and better shops seems the likely forecast – all concerned will have their work cut out.