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Store Closure Figures ‘Show How Retailers Expect To Adapt’

Expert Comments On Latest Findings From Centre for Retail Research


By Rob Dixon

New figures predicting that the number of stores in use in the UK will fall by 22 per cent by 2018 demonstrates the changing face of retail and how companies are adapting to the conditions in the sector, according to a restructuring specialist at Irwin Mitchell.

Statistics from the Centre for Retail Research have suggested the total number of stores will fall from 281,930 today to 220,000 in five years’ time, with the share of online retail sales increasing from 12.7 per cent to 21.5 per cent in the same period.

It is also expected that a further 164 major or medium-sized companies may go into administration over the coming years, although many are expected to survive through the closure of stories.

Andrew Walker, a Partner and specialist in corporate recovery and restructuring at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office, said such research was unsurprising and followed the findings of similar research and commentary carried out into the sector in recent years.

He outlined: “The figures are following the trends and predictions as a result of the continued increase in online shopping and the regional differentiation reflects where the economic activity is being hardest hit. In turn, this shows the squeeze on consumer spend in these regions.

“Unfortunately there has been little good news in the past year related to retail with some high-profile casualties also emerging. This has clearly shown the need for companies to evolve and adapt to the difficult conditions, primarily with the aim of maintaining a level of competitiveness.

“Store closures may be linked to administration or, as has been suggested in this study, it may be linked to a genuine effort to refocus operations online and away from the high street. For many though, being visible on the high street remains a vital tool in their armoury.”

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