The number of High Street shops closed during the first half of the year rose to record levels as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

With non-essential retailers forced to close for much of the spring and summer, more than 11,000 chain stores closed their doors between January and the end of June, according to Local Data Company and accountancy firm PwC.

The figure includes large retail brands, hospitality businesses, banks and post offices. It does not, however, include small, independent businesses.

More than 5,000 new stores did open but there was still a net fall of 6,001 shops on the High Street.

Importantly, the figure does not include stores that had not yet reopened after lockdown restrictions had eased. Many of these shops may never reopen, adding to the total figure.

The Local Data Company said that while the pandemic has been a hammer blow, the High Street was already suffering. In 2019, it said 16 stores were being closed per day, with 3,500 closed in the first half of the year. It is understood that York is the area worst affected by closures, with a net loss of 50 stores.

There are a handful of areas that saw a net increase in the number of stores during the six month period. The highest net increase was just five, however, seen in Harpenden in Hertfordshire.

Lucy Stainton, head of retail and strategic partnerships at the Local Data Company, said: “For local authorities, it’s now critical how they respond to this significant and growing decline in store occupants.

It doesn’t appear to be all doom and gloom, though. Although large retailers are struggling, particularly in city centres, local High Streets have seen a bit of a boost. Various studies conducted over the summer indicated shoppers were keen to support their local businesses as a result of the pandemic.

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said: “With the continued roll out of value retailers, the boom in takeaways and pizza delivery shops and demand for services that can still only be delivered locally, such as tradesmen outlets, building products or locksmiths, shows that despite the stark numbers there remains a future for physical stores.

“It’s likely that whatever happens retail will come out of this smaller and stronger.”

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