The coronavirus pandemic and heavier reliance on internet shopping have caused many beloved brick and mortar stores to fold in the UK, with more than 8,700 shutting up shop in the first half of 2021.

While high street stores have been on the decline for the better part of a decade, COVID-19 has accelerated the damage to retail shopping exponentially. The total number of store closures outweighed the number of new stores, according to research from the Local Data Company.

Their data also shows that fashion stores were hit the hardest; beloved chains like TopShop, Dorothy Perkins and Debenhams have disappeared from British high streets, along with 120 department stores that are now shut indefinitely.

The consumer markets lead at PwC, Lisa Hooker, said: “After an acceleration in store closures last year, coupled with last-minute Christmas tier restrictions and lockdowns extending into 2021, we might have expected a higher number of store closures this year.”

Data indicates that retail parks saw the fewest amounts of closures. It’s widely believed they’ve suffered the least as they’re often anchored to amenities like supermarkets, homeware retailers and DIY stores, all of which have remained popular during the pandemic.  

Hooker added: “Operators are far from out of the woods and the next six months will be a make or break for many chains, particularly with the reinstatement of full business rates for all but the smallest operators, the winding down of furlough support and agreement yet to be reached between many operators and landlords on rent arrears.”