New high street store openings slipped to the lowest level since 2010 last year.

There were 4,083 new store openings in 2017, according to a Local Data Company study of the top 500 town centres, the BBC reported.

There were 5,855 store closures over the year, so 1,772 shops disappeared altogether.

Fashion and footwear stores shut at the fastest rate. The number of coffee shops, book stores, ice cream parlours and beauty salons rose.

PwC consumer markets leader Lisa Hooker, who commissioned the research, said 2017 had been “tough” for retailers, particularly during the second half.

The rise of online shopping and inflation that outpaced wage growth were among the factors that affected store numbers.

However, Hooker said: “It’s important to remember the British high street still plays a vital role in society and there are elements of growth among the headline numbers of decline.

“For example, almost 400 new clothes shops opened last year, even though over 700 closed. And, while four pubs a week closed, at the same time three a week opened.”

Greater London suffered the most closures, with a net loss of 336 shops. In the Southeast there were 185 and in the East of England there were 184.

There was a net loss of 148 shops in Scotland, and 53 in Wales.

There was not a net gain in any part of the UK.

Local Data Company senior relationship manager Lucy Stainton expected that in 2018 new entrants to the market would take advantage of the “shake-out” in retail to snap up suitable locations.

She said: “Businesses with a relevant proposition and a strong understanding of their customer can absolutely still thrive in the right locations.”