Britain’s high street is in crisis.
According to figures by the British Retail Consortium and Springboard survey, the number of empty shops on high streets has hit the highest level since January 2015, with a vacancy rate of 10.3% in July.
Footfall — the number of people visiting a shop during a period of time — also had the worst performance in seven years, falling by 1.9% in July. Footfall to shopping centres also fell by 3.1% and retail park footfall declined by 1.2%.
“Retailers have faced a challenging environment this month, with declines in footfall on High Streets and Shopping Centres,” said Helen Dickinson OBE, CEO of BRC.
“Sluggish sales growth and declining footfall also contributed to the rise in town centre vacancies, which rose to their highest level since January 2015. High streets and town centres play an important part in our local communities, and we should be concerned by the rise in empty store fronts.”
Retailers in the UK are battling the challenge of digital shopping, which is taking more people away from physical stores and more online. This has also proven to be a hurdle when it comes to the pricing of goods because online stores do not have as steep overheads to operate.
Everything from bookmakers and grocers, to clothing stores have felt the pinch and have been shuttering stores over the last few years.
Bookmaker Ladbrokes said it would be shutting 1,000 shops and axing jobs as more gamblers move to online gaming.
Tesco is axing 4,500 jobs and making its Tesco Metro convenience stores leaner.