Vanishing high street: 80% of department stores close in past five years

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Property information firm CoStar Group tracked some of the biggest department chains, including House of Fraser, since 2016. Five years ago, they had 467 stores between them. Now, only 79 are left.

Mark Stansfield, CoStar Group’s head of analytics, said: “The data undoubtedly highlights the acceleration of change in the retail sector in recent years, which the pandemic has only exacerbated.”

The company also looked at what had happened to the 388 stores that had closed. The vast majority were empty.

However, another 52 either have firm plans in place or early planning approval for a change of use, or repurposing.

It comes as developers prepare to open a new department store in Bournemouth next month in place of the seaside town’s closed Debenhams.

Mr Stansfield told the BBC he believed the pace of change would soon step up.

He said: “We are increasingly seeing forward-thinking real estate owners getting ahead of the problem and reshaping what are key assets in our town centres to provide a focal point for regeneration.

“I think we’ll see many more plans come to light in the coming months.”

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