Yorkshire Times
Voice of the North
2:30 PM 6th January 2020

Latest Quarter Shows Slight Improvement For Yorkshire’s Beleaguered Retail Sector

Bricks-and-mortar shops in Yorkshire and the Humber have seen a slight uplift in their fortunes quarter on quarter according to the latest research from insolvency and restructuring trade body R3 which shows that in the three months to December 2019, there was a fall in the level of high street shops at higher than normal risk of insolvency in the region.

In Yorkshire, there has been a gradually improving picture in the retail sector, with the percentage of bricks-and-mortar shops deemed to be at heightened risk of insolvency in the next 12 months decreasing from 44.1% June 2019 to 42.5% in September, and again falling to 41.8% in December.

However, levels of high street retail businesses at elevated risk in the region remain higher than the UK-wide levels which fell from 41.6% in June, to 40.6% in September, and 40.1% in the most recent figures.

There are currently more than 10,400 active shops in Yorkshire and the Humber of which nearly 4,400 are considered to be at higher than normal risk of insolvency. Across the UK, over 59,000 of 149,000 physical stores are in this elevated risk category.

Once again, of the types of shops monitored by R3, Yorkshire’s home furnishings stores had the highest proportion of companies at higher than usual risk (41.6%); followed by shoe shops (40.1%); clothing stores (38.2%); motor retailers (37.3%); market stalls 36.4%); and book shops (35.4%).

Looking at the retail sector across the UK, the top three performers were once again London (36.4% of bricks-and-mortar shop companies at higher than normal risk), the East of England (38.5%), and the North West (38.7%). However, the South East (44.3%), the South West (43.5%), and Wales (42.6%) fared worst with the highest levels of high street shops at higher than normal risk.

Eleanor Temple, chair of R3 in Yorkshire, said: “2019 has been an incredibly tough year in retail, with the sector reeling from continued intense competition from internet shopping, together with the rising cost of being on the high street and falling consumer spending in the face of economic uncertainty.

“However, looking on the positive side, levels of distress do appear to be moving in the right direction, albeit slowly. What’s more, Yorkshire and the Humber are following this UK-wide trend, and it is to be hoped that the region’s retailers will be able to take advantage of a calmer political and economic landscape next year. Any shop owners who are concerned about their financial situation would be well advised to seek professional advice at the first signs of trouble.”