New figures have shown that over 17,500 chain stores disappeared from the UK’s retail locations in 2020. According to research compiled for PwC by the Local Data Company, an average of 48 stores closed every day.

The figures reveal that high streets were the worst hit with 4,690 closures in the year. This compares to 1,791 in shopping centres and 453 in retail parks.

Looking at the different regions, London, the South East and North West were the most affected with the capital seeing a record 5.8% increase in closures. In addition, city centres such as Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and Newcastle experienced an 8% decline in multiple stores.

Meanwhile, the areas least impacted by closures included commuter towns such as Slough, Orpington, Harlow and Welwyn Garden City as well as seaside towns like Scarborough, Eastbourne, Great Yarmouth and Llandudno.

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets lead at PwC, said: “Location is more important than ever as we see a reversal of historical trends. For years, multiple operators have opened more sites in cities and closed units in smaller towns. As consumer behaviours and location preferences change, partly as a result of Covid-19, retailers are moving to be where they need to be. Small towns will remain important but we can expect recovery in cities as workers and tourists return, albeit in smaller numbers adopting more flexible working models.”