Major retailers including Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, New Look, and now potentially Arcadia, are closing a significant number of stores over the next three to five years, and town centres will be the hardest hit locations with clothing & footwear spend forecast to decline by 13.8% (£2.4bn) between 2018 and 2023, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Sofie Willmott, Senior Retail Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “As a greater proportion of shopper spend shifts to digital channels with online penetration in clothing & footwear set to reach 34.5% by 2023 – more than doubling since 2013 when 15.2% of clothing & footwear sales were online, offline locations are losing out.”
Anchor retailers like Marks & Spencer and Debenhams exiting secondary and tertiary town centres will result in other retailers suffering due to reduced footfall as consumers fail to consider their high street as a worthwhile shopping destination and instead go elsewhere. GlobalData’s survey of 2,000 UK respondents conducted in February 2019 showed that 40.6% of consumers would choose to shop online if the retailer they usually shop with closed the store they normally purchase from; thus demonstrating how store closures boost online penetration.
Essential purchases will prop up high streets as the convenience of the location – which 80.5% of UK consumers visited in the last 12 months, according to GlobalData’s 2018 survey of 10,000 shoppers – will remain appealing for purchasing items such as food & grocery and health & beauty, where a wider retailer and product choice is less important in comparison to clothing & footwear.
Willmott adds, “Despite this, total town centre spend will decline by 1.9% between 2018 and 2023 with the location accounting for 28.0% of UK retail spend by 2023, down 7.5 percentage points on 2013.”