Bristol escaping the worst of the shopping crisis
THE central shopping area of Bristol appears to be escaping the worst of the ravages on the High Street, according to the latest statistics.
The problems of the high street have dominated the headlines since the start of the new year with a series of high-profile collapses.
Big names which have gone into administration with the loss of thousands of jobs in recent weeks have included HMV, Republic, Comet and Jessops.
And according to new data 20 stores a day closed across the UK with no sign of the worrying trend coming to an end any time soon.
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The survey put together by accountants PWC with the Local Data Centre has compared the number of closures with the total number of new stores.
According to the figures, 7,337 stores across the UK closed while there were 5,558 new store openings. In the South West there were 721 closures and 524 new shops opening for business.
The South East, West Midlands and North West have been worst hit, with 376, 265 and 215 more closures than openings respectively.
Bristol is still performing much better than many other cities in the country with just 11 per cent of city centre stores vacant, compared to a national average of 15 per cent.
As reported in The Post the centre of Bristol actually saw an increase in the number of shoppers in January over the same period last year.
Change is also reflected in the type of new stores opening, with the big names of the high street being replaced by pawnbrokers, charity shops and bargain specialists.
Ross Connock, insolvency director at PWC, was involved in compiling the figures. He said: "Over the last 12 months there were more retail chains going into insolvency than ever before. The failed chains generally shared two problems – too many stores and too little diversity into other areas such as the internet.
"A number of them had failed to deal with their underlying issues by hiding behind restructuring processes."
He added: "If under performing retailers are to avoid becoming part of these statistics for next year, their shopping baskets should contain more knowledge of their customers and their needs; better cashflow planning; honest analysis of the performance of existing and potential new stores; the bravery to admit mistakes regarding products and stores before dealing with them; more attention to costs; early engagement with banks, landlords and suppliers; appropriate debt and capital structures."
Stores selling computer games, CDs and DVDs, health foods and cards were among the hardest hit, making up a large percentage of the 7,337 closures last year.
Dan Wagner, chief executive of mobile payment company mPowa, said: "We are about to see a major shift in the way we shop. The time has gone where we walk around shops, picking items up, carrying them around the shop, queuing up, getting them all out at a till, packing them all away again, so that you can carry them around with you for the rest of the day and all the way home."