High Street – NAPB Press release

BRITAIN’S High Streets remain at crossroads – with many suffering not just from the aftermath of Covid – but decades of under investment.

The growth in Internet shopping has seen tens of thousands of stores close down and iconic brands like Debenhams, TopShop and disappear from our lives.

Yet despite the challenges, the High Street still remains the beating heart of many villages, towns and cities across the UK.

And ensuring they have the right investment, support and strategy has never been more important.

With this in mind the National Association of Property Buyers, who back lower rents for commercial tenants looking to invest in the high street, has produced a special report detailing the current problems facing many regions and highlighting where opportunities lie for investors.



AN urgent review is needed to help create a plan which can revitalise Britain’s dying high streets, a leading property association says.

The National Association of Property Buyers has now published a special report on the issue which it says needs to be urgently addressed.

Their report which can viewed here highlights how:

  • In 2021, 10,000 chain stores closed from UK retail locations.
  • In 2021, 7,160 shops opened in Great Britain, compared with 17,219 closures, a net decline of 10,059. This was compared to a net decline of 9,877 the year before.
  • Shopping centres have gone from the second-best performing locations in 2015, to the worst performing in 2020 and 2021. Although the pandemic is largely to blame, footfall recovery rates have been fastest in out-of-town retail parks because of their ease for parking.
  • Fashion is the fastest declining category with almost four closures a day. 
  • The areas with the highest unoccupancy rates were Skelmersdale (39%); Stretford (38%); Walkden (38%); Kirkcaldy (33%) and Prescot (33%)


The dire-warning comes just weeks after a survey by high street analysts Local Data Company (LDC) empty shops are among nearly 8,000 outlets lying vacant across the UK.

Almost 90% of former Debenhams stores remain empty almost a year after the department giant closed its doors for the last time, in a sign of the challenge to reinvent high streets across the country.

NAPB Spokesman Jonathan Rolande said: “For many retail outlets, the writing was on the wall long ago. In the internet age, putting items in a window and waiting for somebody to walk past and buy them seems almost quaint. Retail that has survived has adapted by not relying on a shop alone to sell goods. Those who succeed do so by using joined up marketing that creates a brand people want to ‘buy in to’ wherever they make their ultimate purchase. Retailers must accept that in the end, most shops will have to offer things that cannot be found online. It’s why nail salons, hairdressers, discount shops and food outlets have done much better than toy shops, department stores and betting shops.


Jonathan Rolande

Jonathan Rolande (MNAEA MICBA MARLA) began in the property business in the late 1980’s and is a Director of House Buy Fast and helped to found The National Association of Property Buyers in 2013. He has worked closely with The Property Ombudsman to develop a Code of Practice for Residential Property Buying Companies.