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PwC report shows growth in UK bookshops while high street retail declines

Bookshops are one of the top retail growth categories in the UK, according to new research from PricewaterhouseCoopers that also shows a record number of UK shops closed in 2018.

The report shows that 2018 had the largest full year net decline in stores, with 16 shops closing per day. A record net 2481 stores disappeared from Great Britain’s top 500 high streets in 2018, compared to 2017’s net loss of 1772 stores. In total, 3372 shops opened in 2018, compared to 5833 closures.

Despite the overall decline, bookshops were the second biggest growth category in 2018, after sports and health clubs. Ice cream parlours, vaping and tobacco shops, and cake shops/patisseries were the other top growth categories for the year. Bookshops experienced a net change of 18 units, with 42 shop openings and 24 closures throughout the year.

PwC consumer markets leader Lisa Hooker said 2018 was a ‘turbulent year for retailers’, which saw ‘an acceleration in footfall decline on the high street with businesses continuing to see the impact of online shopping, increasing costs and subdued consumer spending’.

‘The high street of the future will be a more diverse space, not solely dependent on stores. The analysis reflects this with the net growth of gyms and sports clubs, ice cream parlours and cake shops, in addition to initiatives to bring more shared office spaces and homes into what were traditionally shopping areas. However, it’s clear that the rate of openings is not currently enough to offset the closure of traditional retailers and services, so some tough decisions will need to be taken in the next few years,’ said Hooker.

The UK Booksellers Association (BA) managing director Meryl Halls told the Bookseller: ‘We are delighted that the PwC report confirms the strong showing for bookshops on our high streets that the BA highlighted earlier in the year … Booksellers are creative and deft, but they can’t save high streets by themselves. We need to work in collaborations and civic partnerships with others to ensure our high streets survive and flourish, and we need government to recognise the enormous part high street retail plays in the culture and economy of the UK and act to support it, partly through business rates reform, which currently clearly unfairly favours online and out of town retail.’

In January, the BA reported a second year of growth in its independent bookshop membership, with 15 new shops joining the trade body in 2018.



Category: International news