Six shops have disappeared from UK high streets every day during the past seven years, according to analysis of new government data.
Research by ratings advisor Altus Group revealed that 15,856 stores across England and Wales have either been demolished or converted for alternative uses such as housing.
At the time of the last Rating List in April 2010, there were 430,360 shops in England in Wales, with a rateable value of £7.86bn.
Although the number of shops has fallen 3.7% to 414,504, their combined rateable value has climbed almost £300m to £8.14bn.
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid has pledged to “level the playing field” between etailers and high street operators.
However, many felt Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Autumn Budget did not provide retailers with enough help on business rates.
Hammond unveiled plans to base business rates increases on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rather than the Retail Price Index (RPI) two years earlier than planned – a move that he said would save businesses £2.3bn over the next five years.
Revo chief executive Ed Cooke argued that, although the move to the CPI was welcome, the business rates system was “still not fit for purpose for modern retail” and called on the Government to reassess the rates system “in its entirety”.
Alex Probyn, president of UK business rates at Altus Group, said: “The face of retail is changing. The conversation now to be had, which is a difficult one, is how to level the playing field between bricks and clicks.
“Property taxes should be about physical property. It’s the wrong mechanism for taxing digital businesses. An online sales tax might be used to level the playing field, but it does not belong within a system based largely on rental values.”