An unprecedented number of shops were forced to close during the first half of 2020 due to the coronavirus lockdown.
A total of 11,000 chain operator outlets shut their doors to the public between January and August this year, according to Local Data Company and Accountancy firm PwC.
About 5,000 shops stayed open leaving a net decline of 6,001 stores – almost double the drop in the same period last year.
But PwC’s consumer markets leader, Lisa Hooker, said the lockdown merely accelerated an already existing trend of people moving to online shopping.
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Ms Hooker said: ‘We know that the pandemic will continue to impact the way we work, rest and play; however, in terms of how we shop, this isn’t new.
‘What we have seen is an acceleration of existing changes in shopping behaviours alongside forced experimentation from Covid-19 restrictions.
‘We all knew that consumers were shifting to shopping online or changing their priorities in terms of the things they buy, but what Covid-19 has done is create a step-change in these underlying trends to where they have now become the new normal.’
There has been a steady rise in shop closures since 2017 when 6,453 shops closed and at least 1,000 stores have continued to close almost every year since.
But value retailers and discount supermarkets have seen consistent growth over the last five years, with leisure likely to ‘remain resilient’ and the demand for takeaways and coffee shops still going strong.
PwC’s data also predicted local tradesmen outlets, building products and locksmiths, as services such as banks and post offices move away from the high street.
Lucy Stainton, of the Local Data Company, said: ‘As with any economic turmoil, there are opportunities for retailers who are able to weather this storm, with the availability of prime property, increased activity and spend in local centres, and changing consumer habits.
‘Agile retailers who are able to innovate and adapt quickly, such as Pret launching its coffee subscription service or e-bike retailer Pure Electric who have opened 13 stores this year, will be the most resilient as we head towards the end of a year which arguably has been the most challenging in recent history.’
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