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High Street chain closures slow with takeaways thriving

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Chain stores are closing at their slowest rate for eight years, new research shows.

A total of 11,530 outlets shut across Great Britain in 2022. That’s an average of 32 closures a day.

But it’s a big improvement compared with the previous three years, according to data compiled for the accountancy firm PwC.

Banks saw the most closures, while takeaways, convenience stores and amusement arcades performed best.

“What we’ve seen in the last year is that high streets are more important than ever as a place where we work shop and play. These figures are testament to that,” said Kien Tan, Senior Retail Adviser at PwC.

The snapshot, conducted twice a year, covers more than 3,500 locations and shows the changing landscape of high streets, retail parks and shopping centres.

The data tracks not only which chains have closed stores but also how many have been opened. They include everything from shops, cafes and restaurants to gyms, banks and bars. Chains are classed as any business with more than five outlets. Independent retailers aren’t included.

As the chart below shows, there are still far more closures than openings. That resulted in a net loss of 10 outlets a day, on average, in 2022. Openings are heading in the right direction but are still well below pre-pandemic levels.

Our high streets are continuing to change with an uptick in leisure.

Lucy Stainton, commercial director for the Local Data Company which collected the data, said there was a continuing demand for food on the go and home delivery after the pandemic.

She said many of the new businesses, including convenience stores, were franchise operators who are often local and nimble entrepreneurs who can fill the gaps, helped by lower rents.

Restaurants chains are also back in growth for the first time in five years. The pizza chain Franco Manca opened seven outlets last year including Brighton, Lincoln, Cardiff and Peterborough.

“We continue to see significant opportunities to expand our restaurant estate over the long-term” says David Page, Chairman of Fulham Shore, the owner of Franco Manca and the Real Greek chains.

But he added the business will be expanding more carefully this year due to the economic environment.

There have already been a few retail casualties this year. The budget fashion chain, M&Co, and Paperchase, the stationery chain, both collapsed with nearly 300 store closures between them. Rising costs and falling sales is putting many businesses under pressure.

Ms Stainton believes changes to business rates and more workers returning to offices will give firms a boost and thinks the overall story of improvement will continue for the year ahead, despite all the headwinds.

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