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Wolverhampton hit hardest by high street closures in the West Midlands

Staffordshire | News | Published:

Wolverhampton suffered the region's biggest fall in the number of high street shops last year, according to new figures.

In 2016 there were 38 closures in the city compared to 20 openings, a net reduction of 18.

This amounted to a 7.38 per cent fall in high street outlets – leaving the city with the highest numerical and percentage drop in the West Midlands.

Dudley, Kidderminster, Walsall and Bloxwich saw a net reduction in the total number of businesses of four, one, six and one respectively.

There was no change in Cannock or Stourbridge while Halesowen and Lichfield both saw a net gain of one.

Stafford was the best-performing area with 17 openings compared to just 13 closures.

The research conducted for accountancy firm PwC by the Local Data Company also reveals a trend away from shopping to leisure – with jewellers, coffee shops and tourist information growing at the fastest rate in the West Midlands.

With a net increase of seven, jewellers were the fastest-growing retailer and, with a net increase of six, there are now 135 coffee shops in the region.

Meanwhile, fashion shops, including women's clothes shops and department stores, were among the hardest hit in 2016 as the move to online continues.

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Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership board member, Ninder Johal, said: "With Wolverhampton, the city is going through a massive regeneration and I am sure the figures will go the other way once the new developments are in place."

In 2016, 392 outlets closed across the West Midlands, a rate of more than one a day, compared to 332 openings, equating to a net reduction of 60 shops.

This compares to 464 closures and 445 openings - a net reduction of 19 - in 2015.

Andy Lyon, partner and head of retail at PwC in the Midlands, said: "As the West Midlands becomes a go-to destination we are seeing an appetite for coffee shops and tourist information, filling the void left by clothing shops, department stores and banks."

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