Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

High streets around the country have gone through the largest half-year net decline in store for five years in the first half of the year, revealed a study by the Local Data Company for PwC.

A net 1,123 stores disappeared from Britain’s top 500 high streets as only 1,569 shops opened, compared to 2,692 closures. The corresponding loss in the first six months of 2017 was 222 stores.

This means 14 stores shutting shop a day on high streets, but the rate of openings presents a more worrisome picture, going down by a third year on year. There were 2342 openings in H1 2017 compared to 1,569 this year.

“Openings simply aren’t replacing the closures at a fast enough rate. Specifically, the openings across ‘experiential’ chains, such as ice cream parlours, beauty salons and vape shops, haven’t been enough to offset closures in the more traditional categories,” said Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC.

The report found categories affected by online shopping, like fashion stores and electricals outlets, losing more number of shops. Pubs and restaurant sector is also facing the music of an increasing consumer preference for in-home leisure , eating drinking and entertaining at home, it added.

“The continued rate of store closures reflects the new reality that many of us prefer to shop online and increasingly eat, drink and entertain at home. The high street is adapting to an overcapacity in retail and leisure space resulting from these channel shifts,” Hooker added.

Greater London saw the largest number of net closures across all the regions, with leisure (-128 units) making up nearly half of the net closures in the capital in H1 2018. Wales was the best performing region, seeing the lowest overall net decrease in chains of -22.

“Looking ahead, the turmoil facing the sector is unlikely to abate. Store closures already announced in the second half of the year due to administrations and CVAs already will further intensify the situation,” added Hooker.