Several major UK retailers plan to close a significant number of stores over the next three to five years, and town centres will be the hardest hit locations, according to GlobalData. The data and analytics company projects that clothing and footwear spend will decline 13.8% (£2.4bn) between 2018 and 2023.
Among those retailers closing locations are Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, New Look, and potentially Arcadia.
Sofie Willmott, senior retail analyst at GlobalData, comments: “As a greater proportion of shopper spend shifts to digital channels with online penetration in clothing and footwear set to reach 34.5% by 2023—more than doubling since 2013 when 15.2% of clothing and footwear sales were online, offline locations are losing out.”
Anchor retailers like Marks & Spencer and Debenhams exiting secondary and tertiary town centers will result in other retailers suffering due to reduced footfall as consumers fail to consider their high street as a worthwhile shopping destination and instead go elsewhere. GlobalData’s survey of 2,000 UK respondents conducted in February 2019 showed that 40.6% of consumers would choose to shop online if the retailer they usually shop with closed the store they normally purchase from; thus demonstrating how store closures boost online penetration.
Essential purchases will prop up high streets, as the convenience of the location—which 80.5% of UK consumers visited in the last 12 months, according to GlobalData’s 2018 survey of 10,000 shoppers—will remain appealing for purchasing items such as food and grocery and health and beauty, where a wider retailer and product choice is less important in comparison to clothing & footwear.
Willmott adds, “Despite this, total town center spend will decline by 1.9% between 2018 and 2023 with the location accounting for 28.0% of UK retail spend by 2023, down 7.5 percentage points on 2013.”