UK's vanishing High Street: 83% of department stores shut since 2016

Britain’s vanishing High Street: 83% of department stores have shut since the collapse of BHS in 2016 leaving just 79 stores open compared to 467 five years ago

  • Just 79 of main shops remain open compared to 467 five years ago, data shows
  • Commercial property information firm CoStar Group undertook latest research
  • It found two-thirds of buildings are unoccupied – with 237 still to be taken over

Britain’s High Street has lost 83 per cent of department stores since the collapse of BHS in 2016.

Just 79 of the main shops remain open compared to 467 five years ago, new data shows.

Commercial property information firm CoStar Group found over two-thirds of buildings are unoccupied, with 237 yet to be taken over by a new business. 

The company followed the country’s main brands – including BHS and Debenhams – since 2016.

The study, undertaken in July, found since then the number of stores they occupy on the high street has shrunk from 467 to 79.

It means 388 has closed, including 237 left empty and 52 with plans to change it into another business.

Britain’s High Street has lost 83 per cent of department stores since the collapse of BHS in 2016 (file photo)

CoStar followed the country’s main brands – including BHS and Debenhams (file photo) – since 2016

The firm’s head of analytics Mark Stansfield told the BBC: ‘The data undoubtedly highlights the acceleration of change in the retail sector in recent years, which the pandemic has only exacerbated.’

He continued: ‘We are increasingly seeing forward-thinking real estate owners getting ahead of the problem and reshaping what are key assets in our town centres to provide a focal point for regeneration.

‘I think we’ll see many more plans come to light in the coming months. With these store closures come new opportunities.’

CoStar Group said BHS was a prime example of the problems for firms on the high street.

The clothing chain collapsed five years ago but since then a quarter of its former stores remain empty.

CoStar Group said BHS was a prime example of the problems for firms on the high street (file photo)

Part of its store in Edinburgh has been transformed from an asbestos-ridden site into a Premier Inn.

At the top of the six floors offices are being finalised and the basement is expected to be turned into a bowling alley.

The Scottish capital is among those to be heavily hit by the loss of shops from the high street.

It has seen four of its main department stores go under in the past few years but there are plans to replace some of them.

The former House of Fraser of Princes Street is being transformed into the Johnnie Walker Whisky Experience.

Unlikely Edinburgh, smaller areas north of the border are struggling to replace stores on the high street.

BHS collapsed five years ago but since then a quarter of its former stores remain empty (file photo)

The Scottish border town of Dumfries still has the old Debenhams store empty despite it being its biggest retail unit.

Locals are trying to buy it and turn it into a cinema or food court  but are struggling to raise the funds.

Debenhams, which collapsed in May, is one of the worst cases of high street stores that remained empty in the past few years.

A staggering 149 of its addresses remain vacant, according to data from CoStar Group.

Researchers have been looking at planning applications and speaking to property agents and landlords for the report.

In a glimmer of hope for the high street, they found Next has taken over some Debenhams stores for its new beauty concept.

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