Retail Crisis: Chain Store Closures Hit 32 A Day
There has been an acceleration in the number of chain stores closing on the UK's high streets - hitting 32 a day on average amid high rent bills and the recession.
According to data released by professional services firm PwC and the Local Data Company (LDC), an average of 20 shut their doors every 24 hours in the first half of 2012.
It amounted to a net reduction of 953 shops compared to 174 shops in the whole of 2011, the research suggested.
The problem deteriorated between June and August, it was claimed, as shoppers shifted their attention to the Olympics.
Toy shops, clothes shops, jewellers, card and poster shops and furniture stores suffered particularly badly in the first half while discount and convenience stores, coffee shops, bookmakers and charity shops mostly bucked the trend.
The south east was the worst affected region in the first half with 215 net closures, followed by the West Midlands with 160 and the south west with 129.
Towns and cities badly hit included Manchester, Preston, Bristol, Croydon, Sheffield, Derby and Leicester, the report's authors said.
They suggested struggling chains mostly had themselves to blame.
Mike Jervis, PwC insolvency partner and retail specialist, said: "All retailers in distress have too many locations. The insolvencies of Game, Peacocks and Clintons demonstrated this in spades.
"Relatively long leases, with inflexible terms, have been entered into in a growth phase of the economy which is no longer appropriate.
"Where over-expansion has already taken place, retailers need to face that reality and formulate a strategic plan in partnership with landlords, not in confrontation with them."
From a net increase in 2009 of 1.2%, multiple retailers have for the second consecutive year shown a decline in their numbers from -0.25% in 2011 to -1.4% in the first half of 2012.
With consumer budgets remaining under strain ahead of the crucial Christmas trading season, retailers face the stiff challenge of boosting sales but maintaining profits.
Independent retailers have also been battling stiff supermarket and online competition.
Separate studies have identified high closure rates among local stores.
There was some better news for the retail sector in the latest official sales figures released on Thursday.
They showed a rise in sales volumes of 0.6% in September - largely driven by winter clothing collections and new school uniform sales - which experts hope could help push third quarter GDP towards a more positive position.