Many of the ad­verse trends lead­ing to mul­ti­ple clo­sures of shops in the UK will likely ac­cel­er­ate in Ire­land too, a re­tail re­searcher has said.

Irish Examiner - - News - Ea­mon Quinn

Many of the ad­verse trends lead­ing to mul­ti­ple clo­sures of shops in the UK will likely ac­cel­er­ate in Ire­land too, a re­tail re­searcher has said. Gor­don Fletcher, of the Uni­ver­sity of Sal­ford Busi­ness School, said the UK re­tail shake­out will af­fect Ire­land and that com­mer­cial land­lords will un­likely cut rents on Ir­ish main streets with­out a fight.

His com­ments come af­ter PwC said its lat­est study showed that ev­ery day 14 shops closed on British high streets in the last six months, a record level of clo­sures.

“A com­bi­na­tion of growth in on­line shop­ping, shift to in-home leisure, height­ened re­struc­tur­ing ac­tiv­ity and on­go­ing digi­ti­sa­tion of ser­vices has seen the half-year net re­duc­tion in stores on Bri­tain’s high streets reach record lev­els,” the re­port shows.

In Ire­land, the re­tail trade groups have hailed third-quar­ter sales and pre­dict that many re­tail­ers are look­ing for­ward to strong Christ­mas sales.

How­ever, Sal­ford Busi­ness School’s Mr Fletcher said there is some ev­i­dence that some re­tail land­lord sin Ire­land and the UK will be forced to adopt the US-model of pric­ing rents on the ba­sis of turnover.

In the UK, the worst af­fected are re­tail­ers in the di­rect fir­ing line of on­line re­tail ri­vals, in­clud­ing fash­ion and elec­tri­cal stores, the PwC re­port shows, but UK restau­rants are also go­ing un­der, as “an in­creas­ing con­sumer pref­er­ence for in-home leisure — eat­ing, drink­ing and en­ter­tain­ing at home” hits pubs and restau­rants which are strug­gling with ris­ing prices and too many ri­vals.

PwC said 1,123 stores closed “in Bri­tain’s top 500 high streets” in the first six months, with 1,569 shops open­ing and 2,692 shops clos­ing. And new store open­ings fell by a third from a year ear­lier.

“Our lat­est re­search high­lights the chal­lenges fac­ing the re­tail and leisure sec­tors on Bri­tain’s high streets. The con­tin­ued rate of store clo­sures re­flects the new re­al­ity that many of us pre­fer to shop on­line and in­creas­ingly eat, drink and en­ter­tain at home. The high street is adapt­ing to an over­ca­pac­ity in re­tail and leisure space re­sult­ing from th­ese chan­nel shifts,” said Lisa Hooker at PwC.

“Open­ings sim­ply aren’t re­plac­ing the clo­sures at a fast enough rate. Specif­i­cally, the open­ings across ex­pe­ri­en­tial chains, such as ice-cream par­lours, beauty sa­lons, and vape shops, haven’t been enough to off­set clo­sures in the more tra­di­tional cat­e­gories. Look­ing ahead, the tur­moil fac­ing the sec­tor is un­likely to abate,” she said.

PwC said: “The British high street is in ur­gent need of new ways of think­ing and new forms of re­tail.

“En­cour­ag­ing this should be a pri­or­ity, and it re­mains to be seen if re­cent pack­ages of sup­port for the high street and re­duc­tions in busi­ness rates for smaller re­tail­ers will be suf­fi­cient to stim­u­late this.”

In the UK, those worst af­fected are re­tail­ers in the di­rect fir­ing line of on­line re­tail ri­vals.

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