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Gloucestershire Business News

High street shops continue to close

The number of shops closing down on the high street continues to increase, according to a leading retail organisation.

In the second quarter of 2021, the overall empty shop rate increased to 14.5%, from 14.1% in the first quarter. It was 2.1 percentage points higher than in the same point in 2020, according to the British Retail Consortium.

The number of empty shops has now been increasing since Q1 of 2018.

Total retail footfall in the UK also decreased by 28% in July compared with two years ago. The comparative figure for June was 0.2% down.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: "It comes as no surprise that the number of shuttered stores in the UK continues to rise, after retailers have been in and out of lockdown for over a year.

"While vacancy rates are rising across all retail locations, it is shopping centres, with a high proportion of fashion retailers, that have been the hardest hit by the pandemic.

"Almost one in five shopping centre units now lie empty, and more than one in eight units have been empty for more than a year. Retail parks have also been impacted from the loss of anchor stores and their vacancy rate is rising quickly.

"The vacancy rate could rise further now the Covid-19 business rates holiday has come to an end. The Government must ensure the ongoing business rates review leads to reform of this broken system, delivering on its commitment to permanently reduce the cost burden to sustainable levels."

July continued to see strong sales, although growth has started to slow. The lifting of restrictions did not bring the anticipated in-store boost, with the wet weather leaving consumers reluctant to visit shopping destinations.

Online sales remained strong, and with weddings and other social events back on for the summer calendar, formalwear and beauty all began to see notable improvement, so fashion outlets in particular saw a bounce back to pre-pandemic levels.

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