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REVEALED: The cities hit hardest by ‘retail Darwinism’ on the high street

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Northern cities have suffered more from high-street store closures than their southern counterparts in recent years.

That’s according to new research which has claimed ‘retail Darwinism’ continues to bite and ‘weed out the weaker’ offers in increasingly over-stretched markets.

Leeds, Glasgow and Aberdeen were the cities judged to be hardest hit by high-street woes, according to research carried out by KIS Finance. The research involved a survey of 1,000 consumers.

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The other cities impacted most by store closures, according to the data, were Bradford; Cardiff; Doncaster; Leicester; and Manchester.

In recent months, a raft of CVA’s and administrations in the retail sector has culminated in an expected 1,600 store closures across the UK, with over 18m square foot of prime retail real estate vacated, according to the research.

Referring to ‘retail Darwinism’, James Child, retail analyst at EG, said the market does not show any signs of the closures letting up.

“It is quite likely that there will be a continuation, if not a proliferation of the negative headlines in retail.

“When we break down the events of 2018 there are some trends which we could well see exacerbated into 2019 – due to fragile trading conditions and economic uncertainty.

“There are certain sub-sectors that will face more pressure others. The fallout from the department store will continue at pace, with the future of House of Fraser, and Debenhams in particular should come to a head, a merger quite possible with a reduction of their overstretched portfolios.”

The survey found that more than 60% of Brits are worried the high-street will disappear in the next 10 years due to recent store closures in the news.

It also found that if local high-streets had free parking and easy accessibility, consumers would be more likely to shop in-store. Accessible parking is often a must for many mobility shops.  

But consumers were demanding in what they want to see from retailers battling increasing costs and challenges to tempt them away from online and back into store.

40% wanted more staff to ensure a quicker experience, 34% wanted clearer stock check in-store and 27% wanted 24-hour service so they can shop at any time.

After asking consumers what they think the high-street will look like in 10 years, it seems that consumers are worried that independent stores will not exist.

Holly Andrews, managing director at KIS Finance, said: “With store closures flooding our news-feeds recently, we were interested to find out what the future holds for the high-street and how consumers’ shopping habits might affect retailers’ footfall.

“It is obvious from our research that people do still like going into store to shop, but it just isn’t as accessible as online shopping is. 

“To save the high-street many retailers need to ensure that they are thinking innovatively about how to draw customers in with clearer in-store stock checks, more staff and extended hours during busy periods.

“The reason why so many retailers are struggling with their stores is because consumer shopping habits are changing and the high-street needs to change with it, creating a more community led atmosphere with more accessibility and variety for everyone.”

Image: Getty. Cardiff was the fifth hardest hit city, according to the research.

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Joe Peskett

The author Joe Peskett

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