Chain store brands are deserting high street shops in droves in favour of retail parks and shopping malls, according to a new survey.
Led by the failures of companies like Phones4U and clothing retailer La Senza, Britain’s high streets have seen shops close at the rate of nearly four a day in the first nine months of this year.
That’s more than double the rate last year, according to research firm the Local Data Company and accountants PwC.
The biggest casualties were clothing and shoe shops, with 365 of the 964 closures between January and the end of September.
Taking their place were more coffee shops, banks, charity shops and convenience stores.
Mark Hudson, retail leader at PwC, said: “We’re heading for a high street based around immediate consumption of food, goods and services or distress or convenience purchases.
“I’m not sure that’s what customers really want – but consumer and business economics are pointing in that direction at the moment.”
According to the data, although the mix of shops in the high street is changing, with chain stores retreating to shopping parks, the overall vacancy rate is 13.3% and has stayed pegged around this mark since June 2010.
Local Data Company director Matthew Hopkinson explained his concern was for the leisure sector as the market is saturated with food brands and because of mergers and acquisitions leading to the closure of competing stores.
“What the last month has shown us is that administrations of Phones4U, La Senza and Riley’s are still impacting occupied shop levels,” said Hopkinson.
“Activity in the leisure sector would imply a reduction in the vacancy rate but conversely it might see it rise as the market arguably reaches saturation in many large centres with more food choices than you could possibly have wished for a decade ago.”
The leisure vacancy rate for September was up 0.6% to 7.8%.