Experts say retailers are facing a crisis as running costs soar and people increasingly shop online.
The report – Retail Futures 2018 – which is pretty depressing reading, predicts that 61,930 high street stores, one in five, will close by 2018, resulting in 316,000 job losses. It claims consumer spending has risen by just 12 per cent since 2006, while operating costs have rocketed by 20 per cent.
Meanwhile retailers with strong online profiles need just 70 high street stores to create a “national presence”, compared to 250 in the mid 2000s, according to the study by the Centre for Retail Research.
Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the CRR, said: “Customers now shop in multiple ways, checking websites, visiting stores, reading reviews and making online price comparisons with smart phones whilst shopping.
“Retailers have to make clear responses to the changing pattern of how consumers shop, which includes tactical decisions about store numbers and locations.
“Going forward, I think retail stores will remain an important, although smaller, part of the shopping process as online retail continues to grow.”
The report claims online shopping will account for 21.5 per cent of total sales by 2018. The figure is currently 12.7 per cent. It says 164 more companies will go into administration by 2018, affecting 22,600 stores and 140,000 staff. This follows the collapse this year of HMV, camera chain Jessops and video chain Blockbusters.
The number of empty shops across the country has shot up from 5.4 per cent in 2008 to 14.1 per cent in March.
Shoppers have been turning to online retail more in recent years
Retailers have to make clear responses to the changing pattern of how consumers shop, which includes tactical decisions about store numbers and locations.
And 24 per cent of the country’s high street shops could be lying empty by 2018, raising the unemployment rate by 13 per cent it is feared. The report blames business failure, major retailers closing branches and lack of new business for the failing high street.
It also said car parking costs are driving people away.
Pharmacies and health and beauty stores will be hardest hit, with more than one in three set to disappear by 2018 – around 5,170 shops. Music, books, cards, stationery and gift shops will also become “far less prominent”.
But out-of-town supermarkets are expected to flourish because they offer a wider choice of goods. Mr Bamfield praised television presenter Mary Portas, dubbed Queen of the High Street, who has been backed by the Government to stem the tide of closures.
But the Professor said that, despite a range of initiatives, breathing life back into the high street was “a mammoth task which requires high levels of funding and extremely tight management”.
He concluded by saying: “High streets need to combine the enthusiasm generated by Mary Portas with realistic and well-managed plans.”