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Closures in London: Almost 1800 chain sites were lost last year when the pandemic hurt high streets

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The capital saw 2847 chain shops and other venues close during a year where UK high streets were hammered by the pandemic, compared to 1052 openings.

The net decline of 1795 was calculated in PwC research compiled by the Local Data Company that looked at all London postcodes.

The figures cover chains in sectors such as retail, including supermarkets and book and fashion stores for example, as well as leisure, including pubs and bars. Sites that offer a service were also looked at, for example estate agent branches.

Multiple retailer net closures by region, 2020
Multiple retailer percentage closures by region, 2016-20 
2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Greater London -0.90% -1.60% -2.60% -3.70% -5.80%

In total 7,655 stores opened in Great Britain in 2020,compared to 17,532 closures,a net decline of  9,877.

The study looked at 208,057 outlets operated by multiple operators (firms that have five or more sites nationally)across Great Britain, in2020. Multiples are classified in the study as those that have more than five sites nationally.

The Local Data Company visited 3,496 high streets, shopping centres and retail parks. Each premises was visited and its occupancy status recorded as occupied, vacant or demolished. Sites that were temporarily closed,such as for Covid-19 lockdowns, were considered to be still occupied and have not been included in the closures numbers.

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets lead at PwC, said: “London has undoubtedly been hit harder than other regions, seeing the most closures this year.  A higher concentration of chain stores and fewer commuters and tourists travelling into the city has contributed to this decline. Meanwhile, suburbs and commuter towns have done better, reflecting where people are spending most of their time.”

Hooker added: “Coming out of the pandemic we expect that London will begin to recover as restrictions are eased and workers return to the city, albeit in smaller numbers adopting a more flexible working model. There is opportunity for retailers with a strong London presence to respond to the changing consumer behaviours to ensure they are located where people are shopping and providing the service and experience wanted.”

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