It’s no secret that the high street has been suffering for a while now. The ease and choice offered by online shopping has meant that fewer people are popping the shops and clearance signs are becoming the norm on British high streets.

Last year a total of 5,855 stores closed around the UK, a larger amount than any year since 2010.

In the interest of balance, an average of 11 shops a day opened in 2017. However, 16 a day were also closed making a net of 1,700 closures in 2017.

The data was collected by the Local Data Company (LDC) on behalf of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). However, the data doesn’t include independent shops so the overall figures could paint a slightly different picture. 

Budgets squeezedHigh Street at Risk

Of the industries affected, fashion and footwear stores were hit hardest by store closures and decreasing sales. Spending on clothing and footwear took a 2% dip over the past two years, while online sales are increasing.

LDC found that shoppers are finding it more difficult to spend money on non-essentials due to inflation increasing food costs.

This has been partially affected by the fall in the value of the pound following Britain’s vote to leave the EU in 2016.

On the other hand, there was a net rise in the number of cafes, bookstores and beauty stores being opened last year.

Besides online shopping

Along with a preference for online shopping, businesses have had to contend with rising costs such as business rates and staff costs.

Consumer confidence also reached a four year low last December as shoppers reined in their spending at Christmas. This led to the amount of closures increasing in the second half of last year.

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC said: “2017 was tough for the British retail industry, particularly the second half of the year. We saw volatility from month to month and across different sectors as wage growth failed to keep up with inflation, forcing many shoppers to think more carefully about their spending habits.”

Unfortunately, this trend looks likely to continue. PwC also said that the first quarter of 2018 has been the toughest first quarter since the 2009 recession.

This year has already seen big names like Toys R Us and Bargain Booze going into administration. Other stores including New Look, Mothercare, Marks and Spencer and Carpetright have also seen profits drop with some planning to close stores around the UK.

Meanwhile, online retailers BooHoo and Asos increased their sales and the value of shares beyond many of their high street competitors last year.

Are you concerned with the health of your high street? Would you say you shop mostly online and if so why? Please share your thoughts in the comments.