A total of 5,839 stores closed in the UK last year with 987 being retail outlets. This is an increase of 600 shops since 2013, according to research by PwC. The majority of store closures included mobile phone shops, pawnbrokers and quick cash shops as well as clothing and food retailers.
We’ve reported over the last few years of problems that retailers face, including expensive business rates, high rent and significant shifts in consumer spending patterns. Over the last few years, the move from traditional retailers to online and discount stores has changed every high street in the UK, causing many shops to either close or relocate to retail parks outside of cities.
Mike Jervis, insolvency partner at PwC said in a statement, “This year's numbers expose the harsh impact of 'macro' changes on the high street, especially in certain sub-sectors”.
“Despite the benign economy, the net loss of shops has accelerated. The insolvencies of Phones4U, Blockbuster, Albemarle & Bond, and La Senza, a diverse cross-section of the retail market, epitomise these factors”.
George Osborne pledged a review of business rates in last autumn’s Budget and now it seems the exact plans will be revealed on Wednesday this week. It will be the last Budget announcement before the general election in May so we suspect there will be a few grand gestures which will benefit the public and small businesses. It’s thought that new plans could see the business rate system calculated in a more fair way and even scrapped for very small businesses.