Research reveals that a record number of stores shut permanently in 2020.

17,532 chain stores closed last year, while only 7,655 opened, according to research from PwC and the Local Data Company. The result is a net deficit of 9,877 permanent store closures – the highest on record, and equates to 48 store closures per day.

The results are based on a survey of 208,000 shops operated by retailers that operate five or more shops across the UK. The study also warned that more retail closures are expected this year.

Retail Vacancy Rate Increase

In the three months to the end of December 2020, the overall retail vacancy rate increased to 13.7%, up from 13.2% in the third quarter, as indicated by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Local Data Company’s Vacancy Monitor, marking the tenth consecutive quarter of increasing vacancy rates.

Prominent high street chains that shut down their standalone stores for good in 2020 include Mothercare, Beales, Carphone Warehouse, TM Lewin, Oasis & Warehouse, Oliver Sweeney, J.Crew, Evans, Brighthouse and Cath Kidston – except for its flagship in Piccadilly.

Meanwhile, Topman and Burton parent company Arcadia Group slid into administration at the end of November, and Debenhams entered liquidation almost immediately after a sales process failed. Aside from Arcadia Group’s Evans, the respective closures will not come into effect until 2021, following the rescue deals made with Asos and Boohoo.