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New report indicates extent of high street challenge, says Bira

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A report released by PwC about a study on how the high street is fairing shows how “challenging the high street continues to be”, according to The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira).

The report, released this week, highlighted how store closures for chains and multiples slowed versus the last two years.

However, it revealed vacant units in town and city centres are no longer being replaced by other chains, as the shift to retail parks continues in response to consumers’ changing location preferences.

In response to the report, Bira’s CEO 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 the high street chains who 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.”

He added: “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

“From an independent perspective we are pleased to see the ongoing trend for local shopping. Independents have responded well to the pandemic by engaging with local communities and establishing their place in the local economy. There will always be entrepreneurs will to take up the vacant space, providing the conditions are supportive.”

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