Figures just released have shown that an average of 14 shops a day are closing down on the High Street, as the retail sector continues to struggle.

In the first six months of 2018, some 1,123 stores around the country disappeared from the top 500 UK high streets, and 2,692 shops in total across the country. Fashion and electrical stores were among the hardest hit, as many more consumers went online to pick up bargains. With people tightening their belts, bars and restaurants also saw a significant slump in trade.

Store closures in the second half of the year look set to continue, with many stores going into administration or taking out company voluntary arrangements.

Worst hit regions

London was particularly badly affected by store closures in the first half of 2018. Greater London saw 716 stores close down and only 448 new stores being opened. Leeds also saw major losses, closing 35 stores and only opening nine, while Reading saw 39 shops close down and only 18 open.

Newcastle saw a net decline of 17, and Nottingham also lost out with 35 net closures. Overall, none of the regions saw a net gain in retail stores, painting a sorry picture of the state of the British High Street more than a decade on from the financial crash.

What can be done?

Retailers are facing an uphill battle, as consumers try to rein in their spending and increasingly shop online. With rising business rates and a higher minimum wage thrown into the mix, many companies both large and small are struggling to pay the high rents and overheads on town centre stores.

There was some relief in last month’s budget, as Chancellor Phillip Hammond announced the government would spend £900 million reducing the business rates by a third for some 500,000 retailers. A £675 million fund has also been set up to help high streets adapt, but so far little real change has been made by the task force led by Sir John Timpson.

Changes in leadership could also help pull some companies out of the slump. Many of the most widely recognised companies, which have disappeared from our high streets, have been criticised for a lack of leadership or poor leadership, which can have a detrimental impact on the business as a whole. In many instances, change needs to come from the top, coupled with financial assistance from the government.