UK retail

UK retail sector had a bruising year in 2022

About 47 shops closed for good every day in 2022 in the UK, according to analysis from the Centre for Retail Research (CRR), an independent research body which provides analysis of retail sector trends. It says 17,145 stores on high streets and other locations across the country shut in total, up almost 50% on 2021.

The group’s survey found that 151,474 retail jobs across the UK were lost in 2022, including those from online retailers – up 43% on the 105,727 jobs lost in the previous year.

It also found 5,509 shops were closed because retailers went bust, entering some form of insolvency, while a further 11,636 were shut as part of cost-cutting programmes by large retailers, or independents simply shutting up shop for good.

The researchers found there had been a 56% drop in shops being closed because larger retailers – with 10 or more sites – went out of business. They said that many of the chains that were going to fail already had in recent years. But clothing chain Joules and McColl’s convenience store chain among others still went under.

(Source: Centre for Retail Research)

“Rather than company failure, rationalisation now seems to be the main driver for closures as retailers continue to reduce their cost base at pace” the CRR’s director, Prof Joshua Bamfield, said. He expects this trend to continue in 2023 but added: “A few big hitters may well fail, too.”

The real estate adviser Altus Group said that retailers and landlords would have to pay close to £1.1bn from April 1 to cover the business rates on empty sites. These are sites that have been empty for three months.

The British Retail Consortium said 2022 had been “an exceptionally difficult year for both consumers and retailers”, with sales volumes down compared with 2021, as retailers and consumers grappled with energy costs and soaring inflation.