UK High Street stores continue to close

Around 16 high street shops a day closed in the UK last year, according to new figures.

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By :  ,  Financial Analyst

The UK's high street is continuing to face challenging conditions.

New figures from the Local Data Company revealed that in 2014 a net total of 987 high-street shops went out of business. The research, an analysis of the top 500 UK town centres, showed that the past year's total was three times as much seen in 2013 and highlighted the struggles the country's retail sector in undergoing at the moment.

The Local Data Company said that overall 5,839 outlets shut their doors in the past year, the equivalent of 16 a day. Clothes and shoe shops bore the brunt of this downturn while service shops, such as opticians and travel agents, also saw a significant decline in it total amount of stores. However, food and drinks outlets along with coffee shops, charity shops and tobacconists performed much better.

Technology continues to be one of the factors in the poor performance of the high street. The constant evolution of the smartphone and tablet mobile device has made it even easier for consumers to buy goods over the internet and have them easily delivered. It has meant that traditional retailers are struggling to keep up with the changing face of consumer habits.

Matthew Hopkinson, director the Local Data Company, said: "Our town centres continue to evolve away from traditional shops and services to leisure – food and beverage and entertainment.

"This is reflected by American and British restaurants featuring in the top ten risers along with the impact of click-and-collect services showing a 20 per cent growth in 2014."

North-south divide

Research conducted by the Local Data Company in February highlighted that the closure of high-street stores was showing a north-south divide in the UK. The analysis saw that one in five shops in the north was now empty, compared to one in ten in the south. While average vacancy rates had been falling since 2012, the latest figures have caused new concern.

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