The High Street is yet to feel the full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, despite more than 17,500 stores and other venues closing in 2020.
The figures, from PwC, suggest there were 48 closures every day. They include hospitality and leisure venues, but not independent retailers.
There were, however, over 7,600 new store openings, leaving a net fall of nearly 10,000 – the worst annual decline for a decade.
Lisa Hooker, head of consumer markets at PWC, said the High Street is likely to get worse before it gets better, with a number of businesses “temporarily” closed but may never be able to reopen once government financial support comes to an end.
“Unfortunately, there is still quite a lot to play out. You’ve seen the closures of the likes of Debenhams and Topshop and that’s happening in 2021 so they’re not even in our numbers,” Ms Hooker said.
“Much of the impact is a reflection of things that happened before the pandemic. This was not just the move online but areas such as legislative changes, for example for betting shops, consolidation due to overexpansion, or chain-wide closures for restaurants and mobile phone stores that found themselves in trouble pre-Covid-19.”
Shopping centres suffered the worst net falls, whereas retail parks fared the best. Unsurprisingly, takeaways and cake shops saw the biggest uplift where fashion and betting shops suffered the biggest falls.
Lucy Stainton, head of retail and strategic partnerships at the Local Data Company, which conducted the research, said: “Looking at where this opening and closure activity has predominated really tells the story of changing consumer preferences and shifting demand.
“On the whole, flagship, city centre high streets and shopping centres saw a greater decline in chain stores versus more local markets and retail parks which proved to be more convenient and perceptibly safer.”