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More than 51,000 high street stores close in one year

Posted on in Business News , Cycles News

51,000 high street businesses closed in the last year thanks to climbing business rates and rents and increased competition from online rivals, figures reveal.

Revealing the figures following a written Commons question, Communities Minister Jake Berry said: "In the last 12 months, 51,504 businesses on UK high street closed.

"Over the same period, 42,166 new business units opened.

street shops"This is based on Local Data Company Data, which looks at openings and closures of individual units rather than businesses."

That means a net loss of 9,338 to the retail industry.

Federation of Small Businesses chairman Mike Cherry said: "Spiralling business rates and ever-increasing rents are clobbering high street firms, forcing some to shut up shop in the face of an unsustainable future.

"With bank branch closures, reduced access to cash and expensive town centre parking adding to the mix, it's no surprise small retailers continue to report the lowest confidence level of any sector.

"In fact, our research shows four in 10 firms expect their performance to get worse over the next couple of months."

Shadow Business Minister Bill Esterson blamed Government austerity for piling pressure on the high street.
He said: "Tory cuts have hit hard towns and communities hard over the last eight years.

"We need action on business rates, parking and much more to help retailers and to support people working and shopping on our high streets.

"We need a Labour government that will invest to put the heart back into our communities."

Some of the more high profile closures in the last year include Carpetright closing 92 stores, Toys R Us collapsing into administration in February and Prezzo confirming it will shut 94 of its 300 outlets.

Mothercare will close 50 stores and House of Fraser plunged into administration until it was rescued by Mike Ashley's Sports Direct.

Local Government Association economy spokesman Martin Tett said: "Many councils throughout the country are already leading the way in transforming the future potential of their town centres in the face of unprecedented changes in shopping habits and the retail landscape.

"We believe councils should have more powers and flexibility, particularly in relation to planning, to help shape and deliver vibrant town centres.

"The LGA stands ready to work with the Government, councils and other stakeholders to help secure a prosperous long-term future for our high streets and town and city centres."

Former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: "Our high streets are being turned into ghost towns and yet the Government just sits on its hands and looks the other way.

"Tens of thousands of hardworking business owners are being forced to shut up shop each year because there's simply not a level playing field out there.

"If the Government really cared about reviving our struggling high streets then they should abolish business rates so our local shops are given a proper opportunity to compete with mega online retailers."

Tory Minister Mr Berry insisted: "High streets are a crucial part of our communities.

"The Government is determined to see our high streets thriving, both now and in the future.

"We want to see vibrant hubs where people live, shop, use services and spend their leisure time."

Ministers are "establishing an expert panel of industry leaders to draw on their experience and expertise to diagnose the issues currently affecting our high streets, and advise on the best long-term approach to help their revival," he added.

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