The Centre for Retail Research (CRR) has warned that one in five UK high street shops could close in the next five years, leading to further administrations and job losses.
In the ‘Retail Futures 2018’ report, produced by Professor Joshua Bamfield, the CRR warns that retailers must make “radical changes” to “preserve what is best in retailing.”
The study forecasts that total UK store numbers will fall by 22%, from 281,930 to 220,000 by 2018, which could in turn lead to over 316,000 job losses.
Online retail is identified as the main threat to the high street shops, with online sales comprising 12.7% of all UK retail sales in 2012, which the CRR estimates will grow to 21.5% by 2018.
Empty shops in the UK high streets and shopping centres now account for 11.9% of all sites – the highest since records began.
The ‘Retail Futures 2018’ report estimates that this figure will continue to rise, possibly to as high as 20%.
The report identifies pharmacies and health and beauty stores will be the first to suffer from falling sales, followed by retailers specialising in music, books, cards, stationery and gifts.
It predicts there will be a further 164 major or medium-sized companies going into administration, involving the loss of 22,600 stores and 140,000 employees, with many of these companies surviving but at the cost of closing more than half their stores.
Regional differences are also highlighted, with Wales, the North and the Midlands warned to expect a much higher proportion of stores to be shuttered, predicting between 26% to 29% of stores to close by 2018.
The ‘Retail Future 2018’ report cautions that “the ‘normal’ retail model needs revisiting, under the combined pressures of high costs, consumer reluctance to spend, and rapid growth of online retailing.”