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24 Mar 2021 | 12:02

More than 11,000 shops lost in 2020, research shows

(Sharecast News) - More than 11,000 shops permanently shut down in the UK last year, according to research published on Wednesday, hit by changing consumer habits and the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the Local Data Company, there were 32,847 closures in 2020 and 31,405 openings, meaning the independent market shrank by a net 1,442 retail units.

Combined with the net loss of 9,877 chain outlets during the year, a total of 11,319 stores permanently closed their doors in 2020.

However, LDC said the number of independent retailers closing down was smaller than in 2019, when there was a net decline of 1,521 units.

"The decrease in closures indicates that government support schemes designed to stem the flow of retail and leisure closures during the pandemic were more effective for the independent sector than chains," the LDC said.

Government support has included business rates relief and a moratorium on evictions, as well as the coronavirus job retention scheme.

Further supporting the independent sector was the need for people to remain local during stay-at-home orders. "Localisation has been a key trend," the LDC found.

Lucy Stainton, head of retail and strategic partnerships at LDC, said: "While the latest statistics do show that structural decline across retail and leisure market picked up pace in 2020, it is clear that we are not yet seeing the full impact of the pandemic.

"The number of permanent closures recorded was lower than the previous year, as a result of government interventions, yet a significant number of dormant businesses are still temporarily closed following the first lockdown. IT remains to be seen if these will reopen at all once restrictions are lifted."

But she added that the trend towards localisation was a source of optimism. "This could mark a first step towards more diverse and resilient high streets across the country."

The LDC has analysed 680,000 outlets across 3,000 shopping destinations.
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