High Street shop closures increased in 2014

The number of High Street shops declined rapidly in 2014, as more stores closed than opened, new research from the Local Data Company has revealed.


In a study of the top 500 UK town centres, a net total of 987 high street shops shut down in 2014 – three times the number that went out of business a year earlier.


Some 5,869 outlets closed throughout the year – equivalent to 16 a day ceasing trading – with clothes and shoe shops among those seeing the biggest declines.


The number of travel agents and opticians also fell although leisure stores including food and drinks outlets did see a boost in numbers.


Coffee shops, tobacconists and charity shops opened more premises than other sectors while mobile phone shops saw the highest number of closures – driven by Phones 4U falling into administration, the sector saw 419 shops close in 2014.


The major difference between 2013 and 2014 is the number of new shops that are opening to replace those that shut down, as fewer new stores opened last year.


A key part of this relates to innovations in mobile and internet shopping that means customers do not need a high street shop to purchase their goods.


PwC, who commissioned the research, have suggested that rates of closure will continue at similar levels in 2015.


The Local Data Company agreed with those thoughts, suggesting that price wars between supermarkets, discounters and traders will create tougher trading situations.


The key for businesses facing these conditions is to recognise their position and act upon it – by streamlining the business to cut spending wherever possible.


Should this not be feasible, seeking guidance from insolvency practitioners relating to business turnaround or administrative measures could offer a potential lifeline.


In such situations, the businesses concerned must act quickly before the complexity of issues increases in order to have the best opportunities to find workable solutions.


A failure to do so could see them joining the list of firms that fail to see out 2015.


By Phil Smith


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