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14 high street shops closing a week across Britain, study finds

Labour urges government to halt ‘the onslaught of store closures and job losses on the high street’

AROUND 14 high street shops are closing across Britain every day as they struggle to compete with online shopping, figures revealed today.

A study of 500 high streets by accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 2,692 high-street stores disappeared in the first half of 2018.

Only 1,569 new shops opened their doors in the same time, compared to 2,342 shops in the first six months of last year – a fall of a third.

Greater London and south-east England were the regions worst affected by store closures, followed by the Midlands, the north-east and eastern England.

Even Wales, which was named as the least affected region, saw a net loss of 22 shops.

Restaurants such as Jamie Oliver’s Italian food chain were named in the report as doing particularly badly, while stores such as Debenhams and Mothercare have struggled to compete with online outlets.

The use of Company Voluntary Arrangements to control economic losses has also grown, with companies such as Prezzo and Jamie’s announcing them.

The report identifies the rise of online shopping and “in-home leisure” as key to the decline in the high street, and points to a dramatically changing economic climate.

However, it also says that the rising cost of living and a decline in take-home pay is causing many to avoid regular shopping.

High Streets Minister Jake Berry has said that Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Budget has “high streets at its heart,” and that additional funding and slashing of business rates should help businesses adapt to the changing economy.

Labour shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said: “We need to stop the onslaught of store closures and job losses on the high street, but the Tories’ plan will merely tinker at the edges.

“Without long-term structural support, the future looks very bleak for our high streets and town centres.

“Labour’s five-point plan, from our reform of businesses rates to our empty shops register, will rejuvenate the high street.”

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