London: Britain's high streets are losing shops, pubs and restaurants at record rates in the most testing retail and leisure climate in five years, research by PwC showed on Friday.
A net 1,123 stores disappeared from Britain's top 500 high streets in the first half of the year as only 1,589 shops opened, compared to 2,682 closures, PwC said.
A string of UK retailers has failed or announced plans to close shops.
Toys R Us UK and electronics retailer Maplin went into administration this year, while department store chain House of Fraser was rescued by Sports Direct, and stalwarts such as Marks & Spencer and Debenhams have announced closures.
PwC said the hardest hit retail categories were fashion stores and electrical outlets, both of which have seen a shift to online spending.
Pubs have been impacted by people buying drink in supermarkets to consume at home, and restaurants are struggling to deal with cost inflation and oversupply after rapid expansion in recent years, it said.
Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said the turmoil facing the sector was unlikely to abate.
"The continued rate of store closures reflects the new reality of that many of us prefer to shop online and increasingly eat, drink and entertain at home," she said.
"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."