Web ser­vices con­tinue to hit high streets hard

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Tam­lyn Jones Busi­ness Cor­re­spon­dent

CAFéS and ice cream par­lours are thriv­ing while banks and es­tate agen­cies con­tinue to close as the re­gion’s high streets suf­fer from on­line ser­vices.

The West Mid­lands saw a net loss of 144 re­tail out­lets dur­ing 2017 (338 open­ings and 482 clo­sures) ac­cord­ing to new fig­ures. This com­pared to 2016 when the re­gion ex­pe­ri­enced a net loss of 60 stores.

In Birm­ing­ham, there were 70 new open­ings last year in­clud­ing high pro­file names such as jew­ellery brand Tiffany & Co and fur­ni­ture re­tail­ers Heal’s and Made, but the city waved good­bye to shoe shop Jones Boot­maker and branches of Lloyds and Hal­i­fax among 79 clo­sures.

The anal­y­sis, by fi­nan­cial ser­vices firm PwC with re­searchers Lo­cal Data Com­pany, said book­sell­ers, cafés and ice cream par­lours all thrived, but sec­tors such as bank­ing, es­tate agen­cies and travel agen­cies are suf­fer­ing as the shift to on­line shows no let-up.

Other suc­cess sto­ries on the high street in­cluded beauty prod­uct stores and to­bac­conists.

Andy Lyon, leader of PwC’s re­tail and con­sumer prac­tice in the Mid­lands, said: “2017 has proved to be one of the tough­est trad­ing pe­ri­ods West Mid­lands re­tail­ers have ex­pe­ri­enced in years, borne out by a 9.1 per cent rise in store clo­sures with high street names such as Store Twenty One go­ing into liq­ui­da­tion and oth­ers such as Maplins and Toys R Us fac­ing the same fate.

“We saw volatil­ity from month to month and across dif­fer­ent sec­tors as wage growth failed to keep up with in­fla­tion, forc­ing many shop­pers to think more care­fully about their spending habits.

“On top of this, many re­tail­ers are in­creas­ingly feel­ing the im­pact of the ac­cel­er­a­tion of on­line shop­ping as con­sumers be­gin to feel more com­fort­able with the price trans­parency and re­li­a­bil­ity of de­liv­ery op­tions of­fered by on­line play­ers.

“Dig­i­tal of­fer­ings are in­creas­ingly be­com­ing make or break in ar­eas like fash­ion but also for banks, travel agents and es­tate agents – all of whom closed a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of high street stores last year.”

Look­ing ahead, he added: “We’ve al­ready seen a tough start to 2018 but it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber the Bri­tish high street still plays a vi­tal role in so­ci­ety and that there are el­e­ments of growth among the head­line num­bers of de­cline.

“Re­tail­ers and leisure op­er­a­tors need to con­tinue look­ing at their busi­nesses – in­clud­ing their store port­fo­lios – to make sure they have a clear brand and prod­uct of­fer­ing.

“The win­ners at the mo­ment, such as nail bars, cof­fee shops, book­stores and craft beer pubs, are all flour­ish­ing be­cause they serve the needs of emerg­ing con­sumer seg­ments.”

The report tracked 5,124 out­lets on high streets, re­tail parks and shop­ping cen­tres across 32 town and city cen­tres across the West Mid­lands and op­er­ated by mul­ti­ple re­tail­ers – those with at least five shops na­tion­ally.

> Toys R Us was one of the clo­sures

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.