THE number of high street shops facing closure has dropped to its lowest level since 2010, but that trend still leaves the UK with an equivalent of 14 fewer bricks and mortar chain stores each day, new research shows.

Analysis of 67,521 chain stores – accounting for those with more than five national outlets – across 500 town centres in Great Britain showed that there were 2,564 store closures during the first six months of the year.

Charity shops, shoe stores, gift shops and women’s clothing retailers were the hardest hit over the period, according to research compiled by the Local Data Company for PwC.

The number of closures outstripped the 2,342 shop openings during the first half of the year, but at an average of 14 store closures per day, it represented the lowest number of closures since 2010.

The net difference between closures and openings has also “shrunk significantly” to 222 stores versus the net loss of 503 stores in the first half of 2016, and is the smallest figure since the same period in 2013, when 209 more stores closed than had opened.

Mike Jervis, an insolvency partner and retail specialist at PwC, said the “relatively low” number of closures over the period reflected a “more stable environment” and proved that consumer confidence was more resilient than had been expected.

Stores that have previously seen notable high street declines have also started to reach an “equilibrium”, according to PwC, with general fashion stores, banks and cheque cashing shops recording their lowest number of net closures in three years.

But tobacconists, coffee shops and beauticians saw a relative boom, having seen their presence on the high street grow at the fastest pace among their peers in the first half of the year.

Ice cream parlours were also amongst the winners, thanks to openings by chains including Ben & Jerry’s and Kaspa’s Creams.

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