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High Street Faces ‘Unprecedented Challenges’ Says Bira

Following recent data released by PwC and the Local Data Company on the state of the UK retail landscape – which revealed a decrease in stores across the country in 2023 – the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) says that the high street faced ‘unprecedented challenges’. Despite the rise in new outlets opened by UK multiples, the closure of stores continues to outpace openings, resulting in a net decrease of 5,000 stores.

“This is further evidence of how difficult it is for retailers on the high streets in the UK,” states Bira’s ceo Andrew Goodacre, who expressed his concern over the challenges facing independent retailers. 

“Our own recent survey also showed that over 50% of indies were concerned about 2024. We disagree that store closure was a result of a long term trend of people moving online because, since Covid restrictions were lifted in 2021, online sales have fallen. We believe store closures have occurred due to the cost of living crisis reducing consumer spending and the ever-increasing costs of running a shop, with many indies saying enough is enough.”

The figures revealed daily closure rate of 14 stores, underscoring the challenges faced by both retail and service industries amid a preference for online shopping. Despite 9,138 new openings last year, primarily driven by hospitality sites such as drive through coffee shops and fast food restaurants on out of city centre areas, it was felt that the closure of major chains such as Wilko, Lloyds Pharmacy and Paperchase has contributed to a net decrease in retail presence across the UK.

Top: Store closures are outpacing shop openings on the high street says a new report.

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