York revealed as one of most declining high streets in the UK

Another shop goes… Links of London on Stonegate in October. Photographs: Richard McDougall

New research says York has one of the fastest declining high streets in Britain.

The city is the 7th most declining high street based on retail growth and the closures of stores, bank branches and cash machines, figures released this week suggest.

According to the research by AskTraders, York has

  • minus 5% retail growth in 2019
  • 32% of bank branches closing since 2015
  • minus 1.85% growth in ATMs

Other Yorkshire cities struggling according to this analysis include Sheffield, ranking 10th worst, and Leeds at 19th.

But city leaders feel that York has good reason to feel optimistic about the future.

2019 looking better

Figures: AskTraders
We asked some key figures in the York business world for their response.

Phil Pinder, chair of York Retail Forum said:

  • It’s really sad to hear this, when I know the big brands that are here, are doing so well.

    2018 was a terrible year in York and we’ve lost some big names, but from what I’m hearing 2019 is proving much better.

    Let’s hope a strong Christmas will help us to turn the tide on next year’s data!

Andrew Lowson, executive director of York BID, said:

  • We cannot deny that York has seen some high street names disappear as part of national closure plans.

    At the same time, the old BHS site which has been empty for four years is being occupied by Flannels, Evans and Sports Direct which shows confidence in the high street.

    We have to accept the retail landscape is evolving, but I would argue that York’s high street offer is still very appealing compared to most other towns and cities.

Figures: AskTraders
Alex Green, head of business and network innovation and inward investment at Make It York, said:

  • These are challenging times for businesses on the high street as the pattern of national retailers under stress continues.

    York remains an attractive retail destination and what this data doesn’t reflect is the exceptional independent retail offer in the city, which in itself has seen new city centre openings in 2019 such as York Gin and the York Ghost Merchants amongst others.

    Despite the obvious difficulties, York still has one of the lowest vacancy rates in the UK and we will continue to work closely with York BID, York Retail Forum and City of York Council in promoting York as a great place for retail.

“The UK high street has been weathering tough trading conditions with many UK retailers dropping by the wayside,” said senior market analyst at AskTraders Steve Miley.

“Traditional retail store closures are on the up as businesses grapple with a weak consumer in the face of Brexit uncertainty, the unabated rise of e-commerce, higher costs and changing tastes.”

You can learn more about the data here.

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