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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : March 17, 2015

PwC blames Internet, mobile technology for dwindling high streets

Online retail and changes in consumer demand have been blamed for the net reduction of high street stores in the U.K.

by Helen Leggatt

Research from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), compiled by The Local Data Company, showed a net loss of 987 brick-and-mortar stores in the UK during 2014. That's around 16 stores closing per day, triple that of 2013 when 371 net closures were recorded. A total of 5,839 shops shut their doors in 2014, with new store openings just 4,852.

Of the store closures, more than two-thirds were clothing or shoe stores. Mobile phone shops, bank branches, money services also suffered. However, some store types bucked the trend including set-price/discount stores such as Poundland, charity shops, coffee shops, tobacconists/e-cigarettes and betting shops.

"Our town centers continue to evolve away from traditional shops and services to leisure - food, beverage and entertainment," said Matthew Hopkinson, director of The Local Data Company. "This is reflected by American and British restaurants featuring in the top 10 risers along with the impact of click and collect services showing a 20% growth in 2014."

According to PwC retail specialist Mike Jervis, the Internet and mobile have contributed to the downturn on the high street, accelerating store closures as technology changes consumer behavior.

"The future can be seen by watching the 'digital natives' at work and play - those who have grown up with online shopping, mobile phones and ubiquitous broadband have a very different relationship with traditional high streets than the previous generations," said PwC retail leader Mark Hudson. "Rather than try to recreate the past, the high street needs to evolve to be relevant to the future."

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: ecommerce, Internet, mobile, retail, trends, U.K.

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