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Coronavirus drives shop closures to new record

A record number of shops closed on UK high streets during the first half of this year as the coronavirus lockdown hit many stores hard, data shows.

Some 11,120 chain store outlets shut between January and June, according to research by the Local Data Company and accountancy firm PwC.

Although more than 5,000 shops opened during the same period it was not enough to fill the gaps, resulting in a net decline of 6,001 stores.

The final total could even be higher.

Researchers did not count outlets that had yet to reopen after the coronavirus lockdown ended. Many never will.

The data includes shops, hospitality chains, and services such as post offices and banks, but it does not include small independent businesses.

High streets were already experiencing upheaval long before the pandemic struck.

Shops were closing at an average rate of 16 per day in 2019, according to the Local Data Company, which tracks vacancies rates.

But the pandemic is turbo-charging change as more people shop online. The research found that York has been the worst affected area, with a net loss of 55 outlets.