In the first half of 2018, 2,692 shops closed, while 1,569 opened – leading to a net loss of 1,123.
The closures were mainly seen in the areas most-affected by online shopping, such as fashion and electricals, while a shift to “in-home leisure” saw pubs taking a hit and 340 stores in the restaurant, catering and entertainment sector disappeared.
Some of the UK’s biggest retail brands have been rocked by financial difficulties this year, with many forced to close branches.
House of Fraser recently collapsed into administration after a CVA aimed at cutting costs failed to impress creditors. The chain was subsequently bought by Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley, but he has been unable to save all stores.
Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said: “The continued rate of store closures reflects the new reality of that many of us prefer to shop online and increasingly eat, drink and entertain at home. The high street is adapting to an overcapacity in retail and leisure space resulting from these channel shifts.
“Openings simply aren’t replacing the closures at a fast enough rate. Specifically, the openings across ‘experiential’ chains, such as ice cream parlours, beauty salons and vape shops, haven’t been enough to offset closures in the more traditional categories.”
Ms Hooker warned that the turmoil facing the sector is “unlikely to abate”.
“Store closures in H2 due to administrations and CVAs already announced will further intensify the situation,” she added.
“The British high street is in urgent need of new ways of thinking and new forms of retail. Encouraging this should be a priority.
“However, it remains to be seen if recent packages of support for the high street and reductions in business rates for smaller retailers will be sufficient to stimulate this.”