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RESEARCH | Staff Reporter, UK
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Ice cream parlours, patisseries show net growth amidst historic high in high street exits: study

A total of 5,833 stores closed compared to 3,372 openings in 2018.

High street store closures remain at a historic high as openings slump to lowest levels in 2018, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ latest research.

A recorded 2,481 stores disappeared from Great Britain’s top 500 high streets last year. Relative to 2017, the rate of store closures in 2018 remained at 16 stores a day whilst store openings drop to nine a day.

Food-related businesses such as ice cream parlours and cake shops/patisseries were part of the only five categories that showed double digit net growth, or those who opened at least 10 stores during the recorded year.

Coffee shops and food-to-go outlets, which were risers in previous years, have all seen net declines in 2018 as overcapacity and economic conditions took their toll.

The report also showed a net loss of 506 restaurants and pub outlets due to market saturation, cost challenges, and a shift in consumer preferences towards in-home leisure, not only leading to closures but also discouraging new openings.

“The high street of the future will be a more diverse space, not solely dependent on stores. The analysis reflects this with the net growth of gyms and sports clubs, ice cream parlours and cake shops,” PwC consumer markets leader Lisa Hooker explained.

Looking at the first quarter of 2019, PwC finds that closure rates remain high as 1,358 outlets alongside 849 openings. This is said to be a direct consequence of company voluntary arrangements, store downsizing and administrations announced in 2018 across the country.

"Additionally, we believe CVAs are not the answer in isolation. Companies need solutions that fully address customer needs, represent sustainable cost savings and, if needed new money investment to bridge the lag between the cost of a restructuring and long-term performance improvements,” PwC retail restructuring partner Zelf Hussain said.

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