Record levels of store losses in East Midlands

Rise of on-line shopping is hitting the high street hard

The numbers of stores closing and not being replaced by new ones has reached record levels in the East Midlands, according to a new report.

PwC research compiled by the Local Data Company (LDC) shows that 126 more stores closed than opened in the first six months of the year, with Nottingham suffering the most.

The analysis tracked 4,601 outlets in the East Midlands operated by multiple retailers in 34 town centres across the region. In the first six months of 2018, 113 stores opened on high streets, retail parks and shopping centres, alongside 239 closures.

Leicester faired well with a net loss of just one store, with 13 openings and 14 closures. However, Nottingham had the highest net loss in the region with -35 stores, followed by Derby which saw a net loss of -24 stores. Coalville, Loughborough, Lough, Beeston and Long Eaton all maintained the same number of stores and Kettering and Boston were the only areas to see a net growth of one store opening.

The East Midlands saw some parts of the high street thriving , with beauty salons, barbers, and mobile phone shops all opening a number of new premises across the region. Whereas there was a fall in the number of cafes and tearooms, fashion shops, estate agents and women’s clothing, reflecting the rising customer demand for online and apps, and in-home leisure.

Andy Lyon, partner and head of retail at PwC in the Midlands, said: “Our latest research highlights the challenges facing the retail and leisure sectors on Britain’s high streets. The continued rate of store closures reflects the new reality of that many of us prefer to shop online and increasingly eat, drink and entertain at home. The high street is adapting to an overcapacity in retail and leisure space resulting from these channel shifts.

“Openings simply aren’t replacing the closures at a fast enough rate. Specifically, the openings across ‘experiential’ chains, such as ice cream parlours, beauty salons and vape shops, haven’t been enough to offset closures in the more traditional categories.

“Although we are currently seeing a downturn in the East Midlands we are eagerly awaiting the development of Broadmarsh in Nottingham which will bring a boost to retail. Whilst the current disruption on roads and parking due to the construction is potentially having a detrimental effect on footfall in the city, once this is complete the likes of Leicester and Derby may then feel the squeeze as shoppers are attracted to this new retail centre.

“Overall, the British high street is in urgent need of new ways of thinking and new forms of retail. Encouraging this should be a priority, and it remains to be seen if recent packages of support for the high street and reductions in business rates for smaller retailers will be sufficient to stimulate this.”