LONDON, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- Retail industry in the UK is facing a more testing environment than ever as store closures hit record in the first half of this year, a new report revealed on Wednesday.
The first six months this year saw almost twice as many store closures as openings. In total, 1,634 stores opened and 2,868 stores closed over the period, leading to a net decline of 1,234 stores, compared with a net decline of 1,123 in the first half of 2018, according to the research by professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and data creator the Local Data Company (LDC).
The report found an average of 16 stores closed daily as a result of restructurings and people's shift to online shopping. However, store openings highlight the potential opportunities for new entrants as well as established retail and leisure brands.
Out of the 96 sectors, only 15 showed a net growth in store numbers and the top 10 categories for store openings include takeaways, sports and health clubs, pet shops, convenience stores and specialist clothing. Meanwhile, the biggest net declines were seen among fashion retailers, restaurants, estate agents and pubs.
Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said: "The record net decline in store numbers in the first half of 2019 shows that there's been no let-up in the changing ways that people shop and the cost pressures affecting high street operators."
"However, as consumers continue to change the way they shop and spend their leisure time, the reality is that we may need fewer high streets in the future. This opens up opportunities to repurpose high street space for other uses, while the remaining space evolves to meet consumer demand for convenience, choice and experience," Hooker said.
Lucy Stainton, head of retail and strategic partnerships at LDC, said as the industry continues to re-set, the UK retail space will continue to look very different over the coming years, and this is demonstrated by the sheer number of stores opening and closing on an ongoing basis."