Store closures have plummeted 78% net against last year as more charity shops, betting shops, convenience stores and coffee shops open on the high street.
According to research compiled by PwC and the Local Data Company, the net reduction of stores has fallen from 953 in the first half of 2012 to 209 in the first half of 2013 because more stores are opening on the high street, against fewer closures.
Research showed footwear, clothing, video and camera retailers pulled down the shutters while there was a tenfold increase in leisure outlets.
Charity shops, cheque cashing, betting shops, convenience stores, coffee shops and hearing aid shops were among those opening the most branches, during the first half of 2013.
PwC insolvency partner and retail specialist Mike Jervis said: “The shifts in multiple retailers’ store portfolios are a barometer for changes in our society and its habits. Closures in areas such as the photography and video sectors reflect the sea-change in how consumers are spending – the well-publicised insolvencies at Jessops and Blockbuster are stark proof of that. Women’s clothing store reductions reflect the intense competition in this sector, with so many fascias on our high streets.
“Upticks in areas such as cheque cashing and pawnbrokers reflect a society where a sizeable part of the population is forced to turn to these types of borrowing for basic needs. More convenience shops have opened as multiple grocers seek ways to further increase their market share.”
Local Data Company director Matthew Hopkinson added: “The good news is that the significant decline in chain retailer numbers in town centres in 2012 is slowing down.”
But he said the pressure on traditional shops from online retailers, supermarkets and out-of-town retailers will only increase.