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Discount shops 'change high street'

Discount retailers and convenience stores are changing the face of the high street by moving into shops left vacant after a series of well-known names collapsed into administration, a new report suggests.

Figures from Deloitte showed cut-price retailers such as Poundland, B&M and 99p Stores had snapped up one in five sites that were re-let after 27 retail collapses since 2009, including Woolworths, Clinton, Game and Blockbuster.

They also showed that 20% of high-street shops affected by the administrations remained vacant, according to analysis of data on nearly 5,900 sites.

But retail parks and shopping centres have fared worse, with vacancy rates of 37% and 29% for sites formerly occupied by the collapsed retailers.

The report dispelled fears about the gloomy prospect of pawnbrokers, betting shops and charity outlets moving to take over the plots.

It found 0.01% of post-collapse shops had been turned into pawnbrokers or bookmakers and 3% into charity shops.

It added that grocers had taken up 11.5% of retail space acquired after administrations, as the big supermarkets increasingly focus on convenience-store locations rather than the hypermarket "space race".

Iceland and Morrisons had led the charge, the report found, acquiring 75 and 52 sites, with the take-up by Tesco and Sainsbury's at 25 and 18.

But discounter Poundland had been the most prolific, acquiring 113 of the shops in the past five years.

In total, just over 2,000 of the post-administration sites have been acquired by new occupiers while others were retained by the original businesses after they survived the administration process.

Hugo Clark, director at Deloitte and author of the report, concluded: "The results of this research are surprising and seem to challenge a number of myths around the state of the high street.

"They would suggest that far from being dead, the high street appears to be showing great resilience and a capacity for reinvention.

"It seems that a structural shift is taking place with the high street emerging as an unexpected winner."


From Belfast Telegraph