Credit crunch to claim one in six shops

One in six shops will shut by end of 2009

Finance experts are estimating that one in six high street stores will face closure in 2009, due to the ongoing effects of the credit crunch.

As consumers tighten their purse strings, it is predicted that small towns will become the worst hit by closures, although larger retailers are already reporting dramatic downturns in profits.

Today, Marks & Spencer announced that 27 of its stores would be shut, and 1,230 jobs cut as a response to poor profits over the festive period.

According to new research by data company Experian, 90,000 shops will be empty on the UK high street by the end of January, following a spate of chains falling into administration.

This figure is then predicted to rise to 135,000 by the end of the year, to leave 15% of shops in the UK vacant, averaging one in six stores.

Jonathan de Mello, director of retail consultancy at Experian, commented, ‘The unprecedented level of retail vacancy will be disproportionately spread across Britain, so that smaller retail destinations, in particular market towns, will be worse affected.

Woolworths closed it last store yesterday, on which de Mello added, ‘The loss of major multiples such as Woolworths will leave a significant gap in these (market) towns and is likely to have a knock on effect with other retailers.’

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