Record number of high street closures weathered by tanning salons

Tanning salons were one of the few businesses keeping UK high streets afloat during 2017, according to new figures.

The number of tanning salon chain stores in the top 500 UK towns grew by 2.38% from January 2017 to January 2018, while beauty and nail salon chains dropped by 3.82% and 12.50% respectively.

Statistics from the Local Data Company commissioned by PwC revealed that in total, the number of new high street store openings (not including independent businesses) fell from 4,534 in 2016 to 4,083 in 2017.

An average of 16 high street stores closed every day in 2017, with many more closures and less openings in the second half of the year. The analysts said this reflected a tough trading environment; a culmination of a slowdown in consumer spending and rising staff and business rates. The report said consumer confidence reached a four-year low in December 2017.

In the service retail sector, while businesses including travel agents, banks and recruitment agencies experienced high numbers of branch closures, tanning salons were categorised as one of five “risers”, as the number of units belonging to chains remained steady across the country – there were nine new openings and only five closures over the year.

Greater London high streets suffered the most throughout 2017; 1,118 stores opened but 1,454 closed.

"2017 was tough for the British retail industry, particularly the second half of the year. We saw volatility from month to month and across different sectors as wage growth failed to keep up with inflation, forcing many shoppers to think more carefully about their spending habits,” commented Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC.

“The British high street is undoubtedly facing headwinds but retailers are waking up to the challenge and reimagining the future. The winners will be those who are agile and open minded in working out the best way to ensure their stores differentiate themselves and earn their place on the high street.”