Shop openings exceed closures
Empty shop rate stable but does not represent structural recovery.
By Isabella Griffiths
4 September 2013
More than 320 independent shops will close every week in 2013, accounting for nearly 17,000 across the year in just the biggest 500 towns, if current closure rates continue, new research from the Local Data Company (LDC) and the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) warns.
The bleak outlook, however, is balanced by figures showing that more businesses actually opened their doors for the first time than closed, with 8769 new shops having been launched in the first six months of this year alone, which is 424 more than closed, keeping the overall empty shop rate stable.
In 2012 the overall net gain was 594 new shops against closures, while the year before it was 2564, equating to 3582 new shops in the past 30 months, despite the difficult economic climate.
The research points out that it is independent shops that are driving growth and keep the LDC shop vacancy rate stable, as many chains have been pulling out of town centres, however, it also warns that the margin between opening and closures is only 0.4 per cent in the first half of this year – too little to declare a long-term recovery of the high street.
“To save our town centres as sustainable social and economic entities we need to keep open the independents that are already there and encourage more to open – they have already demonstrated that they do this even in tough times. Hitting them with a further £200 million or more in business rates in April next year won’t help that, any more than the £175 million blow that landed this year,” says Michael Weedon, Deputy Chief Executive.
“What the LDC figures show once again is that the natural vitality of a diverse ecology of independent traders can provide the growth that is needed for a healthy and sustainable future for our high streets. This is not optimistic guesswork - it’s demonstrably happening right now,” he adds.
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