Yorkshire retailers at risk remains high through first quarter of 2019

The high street woes in Yorkshire and the Humber showed little signs of improvement throughout the first quarter of 2019.

In March 2019, the level of bricks-and-mortar shops at higher than normal risk of insolvency in the region was 44.2%, according to insolvency and restructuring trade body R3. This has barely changed from 44.3% recorded in September 2018.

The research shows that last month more than 4,500 of the over 10,200 physical stores in Yorkshire and the Humber were at higher than normal risk of insolvency.

Nationally, the level was slightly better than the regional one with 41.9% of physical stores across the UK at elevated risk of insolvency, compared with 42% in September 2018.

Yorkshire’s home furnishings stores put in the poorest performance, with 45.1% in the elevated risk bracket, followed by book shops (41.1%), clothes stores (40.4%) and motor retailers (40.4%).

Eleanor Temple, chair of R3 in Yorkshire and a barrister at Kings Chambers in Leeds, said: “Although distress in the sector appears to have plateaued, it has been a dismal start to the year on the high street with a large number of high profile retailers facing troubles.

“While physical stores are obviously suffering from strong web-based competition, it’s interesting to see that even online retail is relatively subdued with 36.1% of online retailers in the UK deemed to be at higher than normal risk of insolvency. The likelihood is that shops are suffering from pressure on consumer spending as issues around Brexit continue to dampen confidence.”

Temple added: “With the March quarterly rent day now behind them, it is hoped that the resilience of retail businesses still trading will see them through, although the uncertainty around the UK’s withdrawal from the EU shows little sign of easing shoppers’ woes.

“If your business is showing any signs of financial distress, it is vital to seek advice from a qualified professional as soon as possible when the most tools will be available to help you.”