Grainger Street
Image Source: Reading Tom
Grainger Street, Newcastle
Jamie Hardesty

Why it may not be all doom and gloom for North East high streets and retailers after all

It’s an all too familiar narrative for many UK retailers that a decline in the occupational market is spelling the demise of British high streets.

However, new retail insight from PwC and The Local Data Company has found that the number of stores opening and closing across the North East have actually fallen over the first six months of 2017.

While the analysis, which tracked 67,521 outlets operated by multiple retailers in 500 town centres across Great Britain, found that less shops (76) opened during the period than closed (87), this represented a 17% decrease in closures compared to the first half of 2016.

Moreover, 5 town centres in the North East did see a positive net change in the first six months of 2017, with Newcastle, Darlington, Stockton-on-Tees, Blyth and Hexham all experiencing more openings than closures.

Bishop Auckland and Morpeth had the highest net reduction in the North East, followed by Sunderland, Redcar and Gateshead amongst others.

Take away food shops, Italian and American restaurants and satellite TV equipment services were amongst those growing at the fastest rate.

The data also reveals that across multiple retailers in the 18 town centres analysed in the North East, charity shops, public houses, jewellers, estate agents and department stores have been amongst the hardest hit in the first half of 2017.

Bill MacLeod, PwC Newcastle’s office senior partner said: “Whilst the North East has experienced a negative result in the difference between openings and closures in the first half of the year overall the volume is falling.

“The fact that there has also been a 17% decrease in closures compared to the same period last year and store openings continue to rise in Newcastle indicates a potential shift in consumer confidence across the region, with consumers opting for a multichannel approach to retail combining the convenience of online with traditional high street shopping.”

Have you say. Do the figures surprise you? How will British high streets look in five years time? Is there renewed hope for North East retail? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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