One in five shops could be closed by recession
Britain's high streets could be ghost towns when the recession ends, if, as some expect, the consumer slowdown triggers a sharp rise in stores closing. According to a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers, one in five shops could be empty by the time that the economy picks up again.
The impact of the credit crunch on high streets will be exacerbated by the growth of internet shopping and by impact of new shopping centres, such as Cabot Circus, in Bristol, and Westfield White City, in West London. PwC estimates that 3,600 shops could be seeking new tenants if 10% of national retailers get into financial difficulty over the next year.
The research comes as the British Retail Consortium argues that consumer confidence has fallen to new lows, with 69% of people stating that it is a 'bad time' to buy goods.
Barry Gilberston, a PwC partner, said: 'What we are seeing is going to have a huge impact on the shopping environment, in particular high streets. The problem is who will take over the empty units? A few years ago coffee shops came in, but now there is really no one waiting in the wings.'