News & Insight

High street chains suffer in 2019

Jack Stratten

Huge numbers of retail chain stores have closed in 2019 so far

2019 has been a year to forget for many well-established high street giants.

Major high street chains have closed almost 6000 stores so far this year. High rents and escalating business rates have been the most regularly cited causes.

Retailers with more than 10 stores have closed just over 5800 spaces across the UK so far in 2019, which marks a huge 77% increase on last year.

Big retailers suffering more than small ones

Nearly 5000 of the 6000 stores that closed were part of cost-cutting programmes - with retailers like Jack Wills plotting a course of damage limitation. Karen Millen, Mothercare and Patiserrie Valerie are also among the household names who've suffered huge losses this year.

In fact, bigger businesses have taken the headlines when it comes to store closures. Smaller businesses are undoubtedly still struggling, but some analysts think that SME retailers are fairing better than expected on the high street. Arguably, there is a space to be filled that's been left by these headline chain closures.

Whatever happens, for chain retailers and smaller ones, business rates remains perhaps the biggest bone of contention - and one of the biggest causes of high street collapses. More relief is needed, and perhaps a complete overhaul of the way business rates are calculated is needed too. It's widely agreed that certain businesses are unfairly and sometimes arbitrarily punished - while others get away with extremely low charges.

Business rates will inevitably be a key issue for businesses in the upcomng general election.