UK town centre fashion spend to slump - GlobalData

The retreat of UK fashion retailers from physical stores will see town centres suffering a huge hit to their fashion retail offer by 2023, new analysis released on Thursday showed.

UK high streets will host fewer fashion stores in future - De nombreux commerces de détail britanniques pourraient prochainement faire faillite

Research specialist GlobalData said that major retailers including Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, New Look, and potentially Arcadia, are closing a significant number of stores in the next few years. The locations likely to see most closures are town centres, accelerating the move of fashion retail online. 

The company said that town centres will be the hardest hit locations compared to retail parks and supermalls, with physical store clothing and footwear spend declining by a forecast 13.8% (£2.4bn) between 2018 and 2023. 

Senior Retail Analyst Sofie Willmott said that online penetration in clothing and footwear is set to reach 34.5% by 2023, more than doubling since 2013 when only 15.2% of fashion sales were online.

So why will town centres be the biggest sufferers? It’s part of the overall decline of UK high streets, but it has been added to by store closure programmes on the part of major chains. The stores they’re most likely to close are those in less buoyant locations and town centres fit that bill.

Wilmott added that “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 consumers, conducted earlier this year, 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.

However, high streets will be propped up by shoppers buying essentials, with 80.5% of UK consumers having visited one in the last 12 months, according to GlobalData’s 2018 survey of 10,000 shoppers. They’ll also continue to be key for beauty purchases.

Overall, it will mean total spending in town centres declining 1.9% between 2018 and 2023 with the location accounting for 28% of UK retail spend by 2023, down 7.5 percentage points on 2013.

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