The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) has repeated its call for more support for UK high streets in response to a new report showing chain stores are favouring locations in retail parks.
The study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) highlights how, although the rate of store closures by multiple retailers has slowed in the last two years, vacant units in town and city centres are no longer being replaced by other chains.
Bira chief executive Andrew Goodacre said: “The latest report on the High Street from PwC has shown a continuing trend of more shops closing than opening, although the rate of decline appears to be slowing after the impact of Covid-19.
“The largest number of closures came from chain stores that continue to leave the high street at an alarming rate. The report also shows a distinct difference between locations, with retail parks fairing better.
“Despite the negative trends improving, these figures show how challenging the high street continues to be for large and small retailers. With large retailers failing and moving out to retail parks, it might even be argued that one of the biggest threats to the cities and large towns is the attitude of large retailers to the high street, and whether or not they will remain there.
“Retail parks are increasingly attractive and it is about time that city and town centres offered the same accessibility with free parking supported by better infrastructure.
“Independents have responded well to the pandemic by engaging with local communities and establishing their place in the local economy and there will always be entrepreneurs will to take up the vacant space, providing the conditions are supportive.”