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Reality Check: Which shops and leisure services are opening and closing?

Store closures Image copyright EPA

The budget retailer Poundworld faces an uncertain future after falling into administration. Chains, including House of Fraser, Marks and Spencer and Mothercare, have announced they are closing branches. But what kinds of shops and leisure outlets are increasing and declining most across Britain?

If you want to get a haircut or shave, go for a workout, drink a coffee or eat a pizza (either at home or in a restaurant), times are good.

Outlets offering these services are among the fastest-growing consumer premises in Britain, according to a survey by the Local Data Company.

But pubs, banks, travel agents, post offices and newsagents are becoming more of a rarity.

Despite overall sales rising considerably in May, British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson has warned that conditions remain “extremely challenging” for shops, with margins tight and competition intense.

So, here are the types of premises – selling goods and/or services – apparently doing best at the moment (the net increase shows how many more premises opened than closed during the year):

Biggest risers in 2017
Type of outlet Net increase
Barbers 624
Beauty salons 388
Tobacconists (including vaping shops) 381
Cafes and tearooms 353
Nail salons 176
Restaurants and bars 174
Coffee shops 158
Pizza takeaways 145
Health clubs 100
Mobile phones 97
Bars 94
Chemists/toiletries 91
Funeral directors/monumental masons 85
Pizzerias 78
Tattooing and piercing 77
Chinese takeaways 77
Source: Local Data Company

The Office for National Statistics says British online sales increased to 17.3% of all retailing in the year to April, from 16.1% the previous year.

So, it’s little surprise that businesses providing services and goods that would be hard or impossible to supply over the internet – beauty treatments, tattooing, cups of coffee, and so on – have taken over hundreds of premises.

Image copyright Getty Images

Retailers, on the other hand, face “significant head winds” – including increases in the National Living Wage and rising costs in sourcing goods, with the decline in value of the pound – says Richard Lim, chief executive of the consultancy Retail Economics.

Meanwhile, consumers are looking for “low costs and convenience”, leading them to online shopping for many goods, a trend, he says, that will “only accelerate”, potentially damaging High Streets.

Here are the retail/service sectors that lost the most premises last year (the net decrease shows how many more closed than opened):

Biggest fallers in 2017
Type of outlet Net decrease
Pubs and inns 747
Banks/financial institutions 711
Travel agents 679
Post offices and services 577
Newsagents 364
Estate agents 349
Women’s clothing 311
Convenience shops 305
Shoe shops 304
Fashion shops 274
Bookmakers 176
Computers 144
Gift shops 137
Indian restaurants 137
Discount stores 131
Source: Local Data Company

The pubs figure roughly tallies with Campaign for Real Ale data suggesting they are closing at the rate of two a day. It blames high tax rates on alcohol, saying they cause more people to drink at home. But the Office for National Statistics also reports the proportion of the population who drink has shrunk.

And a parliamentary report earlier this year described bank closures as “seemingly remorseless”, saying decreased use of cheques and more payments being made electronically had played their part.

Likewise, sales of actual physical newspapers have fallen, as has the number of people smoking, hitting newsagents.

And the Association of British Travel Agents found that 83% of people used websites to book breaks last year – up from 76% in 2016.

Shops and leisure operators are dealing with an “unprecedented” range of challenges, including internet competition, business rate increases and lifestyle changes, says Mr Lim. “The question,” he adds, “is how the strongest brands deal with what’s happening.”

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