More charity shops than pubs closed last year

A study finds that 271 charity shops shut down in 2017, compared with 212 public houses

Charity shops
Charity shops

Charity shops are closing at a faster rate than pubs, new research has shown.

A study of the high street by the accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Local Data Company, the results of which are published today, found that 271 charity shops closed down in the UK in 2017 and 202 opened – a net loss of 69 premises. 

The study found that 212 pubs shut their doors in 2017 and 146 new ones were opened – a net loss of 66.

Travel agents shrank at the fastest rate in 2017, the study showed, with a net loss of 326 premises across the UK.

Stores selling beauty products had the highest growth, along with cafés and tearooms, with a net increase of 30 shops in both areas. 

Kien Tan, director of retail strategy at PwC, said the figures were not necessarily bad news for charities.

"Because there’s more churn across the high street as a whole, with banks and travel agents and so forth closing, that gives opportunities in different kinds of space," he said.

"So we’re seeing charities moving to different locations as well as closures. Charities are businesses just like retailers are, so they want to be in the right place to attract the right kind of customers. They need to be in locations where there is footfall."

Tan said the decline in the number of shops could be indicative of the charity shop sector’s reaction to changes in British shopping habits.

"Footfall overall is declining because people shop online more and don’t go out on the high street as much," he saiud. "So as charities scale back their shops, it could be that they’re scaling up the digital operation. Larger charities, for example, have a big presence on eBay or on their own online platforms, so what used to be done in stores is increasingly been done online as well.

"I think this is in line with what we would have expected, because there are a lot of charity shops and, as footfall eases off, you would expect the number of shops to decline. That’s good management really."

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