UK retailers demonstrating great resilience

Small Business Advice 6 April 2014

Since the global financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent deep recession endured in the UK, a number of high-profile firms have been forced into administration and can no longer be found on our high streets.

A bleak picture has been painted of the British retail landscape for some time now, but latest research has revealed somewhat of a renaissance, with the vast majority of premises vacated now home to trading once more.

Critics have claimed the former shops are being filled in most cases by bookmakers, charity shops or pawnbrokers. However, a study published by Deloitte today (April 4th) has categorically stated this is not the case.

Making use of figures gathered by the Local Data Company, the organisation’s report shows the number of vacancies on UK high streets is far lower than in shopping centres and retail parks.

Indeed, just one in five of the stores left empty following the large-scale collapses suffered by retailers, including HMV and Comet, are currently lying empty.

Hugo Clark, a study author and Director at Deloitte, said, “The results of this research are surprising and seem to challenge a number of myths around the state of the high street.”

Mr Clarke added, “They would suggest that far from being dead, the high street appears to be showing great resilience and a capacity for reinvention. It seems that a structural shift is taking place with the high street emerging as an unexpected winner.”

Furthermore, the report showed just 3 per cent of the units vacated have subsequently been occupied by a charity shop, while this figure is less than 0.01 per cent for bookmakers and pawn shops.

Deloitte’s Head of Retail, Ian Geddes, suggests the figures put paid to the idea that online retail is detracting from spending on the high street. He highlights the strong growth in ‘click and collect’ systems and speculates more and more consumers will begin to shop ‘en route’, using the web and mobile devices to select items and head directly to designated collection and payment points.

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