High street shop openings reported a “dramatic” decline in the first half of the year as vacancy rates surpassed store openings.
According to the Local Data Company 20,804 shops opened in the UK between January and the end of June, down 15% on the latter half of last year.
A total of 22,801 shops closed during the same period, and although that figure is 5% down on the second half of last year, closures still surpassed the number of store openings by 1,997. This is in contrast with the second half of 2015, when store openings were ahead of closures by 335.
The Local Data Company attributed the “dramatic fall” in store openings to pre-EU referendum uncertainty.
Director Matthew Hopkinson said: “Growth slackened significantly in the half year leading up to the referendum at the end of June, taking the steam out of the gentle improvement in vacancy. Since the end of June we have seen the vacancy rate in leisure outlets inch upwards.”
“Growth slackened significantly in the half year leading up to the referendum at the end of June, taking the steam out of the gentle improvement in vacancy.”
Local Data Company director Matthew Hopkinson
However, he stressed that oversized bricks-and-mortar estates and competition may also have impacted store openings.
“Increased costs for retailers, coupled with fierce competition and oversupply of shops, is likely to see increased levels of distress and failure among retailers, with survival of the fittest being the order of the day,” added Hopkinson.
The Local Data Company surveyed 2,700 towns and cities across the UK for its report and found that Wales was the country with the highest-percentage of long-term vacant stores at 15.1%, followed by Scotland at 12.1% and England at 11.3%.