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Mixed fortunes for UK high streets in 2019

5 November 2019

A new study has identified the UK cities whose high streets are growing the fastest and those that are declining the most.

The analysis, conducted by Asktraders, looked at ATMs, bank branches, retail store closures and ONS retail growth data over the course of 2019. The findings show that across the UK, over 1,200 high street stores have closed during the first half of 2019 with over 5,000 in the past 12 months in the UK.

Bucking the trend, Peterborough in Cambridgeshire has the UK's most thriving high street, with 1% retail growth and 30 new ATMs opening over the past 12 months. Since 2015, only 11% of bank branches in the town have closed down.

In contrast, the worst performing high street is Poole in Dorset, with -4% retail growth and where there have been two bank branch closures and an estimated 48 stores closing in the past two years.

The top ten best performing high streets are: Peterborough, Huddersfield, Coventry, Hull, Slough, London, Northampton, Luton, Basildon and Milton Keynes. The worst performers are: Poole, Blackpool, Warrington, Manchester, Swindon, Edinburgh, York, Stockport, Burnley and Sheffield.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Over 6,000 ATMs have closed between January 2018 and August 2019, representing 300 per month and a reduction of 12%;
  • Over 1,100 bank branches have closed in the UK since 2018; RBS, NatWest and Barclays are amongst the worst hit.

"The UK high street has been weathering tough trading conditions with many UK retailers dropping by the wayside," said Steve Miley, senior market analyst at AskTraders. "Traditional retail store closures are on the up as businesses grapple with a weak consumer in the face of Brexit uncertainty, the unabated rise of ecommerce, higher costs and changing tastes."

There are going to be winners and losers, he added. "High street retailers with inflexible business models that have failed to adapt to their changing environment are and will be the most noticeable casualties. Big names have just vanished from our high street and there will certainly be more to come.

"The challenges that the high street is facing aren't going anywhere fast. This will be a case of the survival of the fittest. Those retailers that can evolve whilst still giving their customers exactly what they want could have a lot to gain."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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