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The death of the high street: Next threatens hundreds of store closures

Patrick Christys
Mar 22, 2019

We are witnessing the death of the high street as yet another major retailer is on the brink.

Next, the high street giant, is threatening to close 237 stores if rents are not slashed.

This would see thousands of staff out of work - but Next aren't the only high street store in trouble.

Debenhams is clinging on by a threat, as is House of Frasier, Evans Cycles and many more - soon we'll just be left with McDonalds and the odd Job Centre.

The drastic outlook from Next, and the risk to jobs, is based on the dire prediction that shop takings tumble by around 10% a year.

Results out today showed store sales fell nearly 8% in the year to January.

Next’s 15 year “stress test” assumes a big shift to online sales, which jumped 14.7% last year and accounted for more than half its trade.

Next chief executive Lord Wolfson said: “We will see more sales online and less and less coming from shops.

“However, we don’t think we have too much space, we have too much rent and rates.

“We think we will see a significant fall in rent.”

The Tory peer insisted: “We think we will still have a lot of stores in 15 years.”

Next are considering opening smaller stores for customers to come in and return orders or change items, which would mean they could downsize and pay less rent.

Next’s 15 year outlook - which it insisted was not a plan or a forecast - would see it generate £12billion in a cash, ensuring it remained a thriving business.

With more people shopping online, as well as rents spiralling, the high street chains are really struggling. 

The Guardian conducted a study that showed one in five high street stores could be closed within 10 years.

It's bad news for retail assistants, but it could end up being good news for property buyers as these buildings could be turned into much needed town centre accommodation.

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