The West Midlands suffered a net loss of almost 200 high street shops last year as the region continues to adapt to an ever-changing retail landscape, according to a new report.

During 2018, there were 287 new store openings but this was countered by 475 closures, meaning a net loss of 188 shops which is the largest fall in the West Midlands over the past five years.

Birmingham followed this trend, with 61 opening and 84 closures, meaning a net loss of 23 shops in 2018.

The data is contained in an annual report published by financial services firm PwC and research group Local Data Company.

The report analysed more than 66,000 outlets operated by multiple retailers in 500 town centres across Great Britain during 2018, including 5,272 outlets in 33 town centres in the West Midlands.

 

Multiples retailers are classed as those having more than five outlets nationally.

Others areas in the West Midlands to suffer net losses included Dudley (seven), Halesowen (four), Solihull (eight) and Walsall (16).

Only two areas - Evesham in Worcestershire and upmarket Birmingham suburb Harborne - actually saw net gains, of two and one respectively, while Hereford and Stratford had as many openings as closures.

PwC said the leisure sector was thriving with health clubs, pet shops and Indian takeaways on the rise while the hardest hit for closures included banks and charity and mobile phone shops.

There has been no set trend in net losses on the West Midlands' high streets with wild fluctuations year on year as retailers adapt to the shift to online shopping.

In 2014, there was a net loss of 153 in 2014, followed by 19 in 2015, 60 in 2016 and 144 in 2017.

Andy Lyon, retail and consumer markets leader for PwC in the Midlands, said: "It's clear that 2018 was a turbulent year for retailers.

"Coupled with the growth in online and high occupancy costs impacted by business rates, retailers are facing some of the biggest challenges to hit the high street as we see closures hit record levels.

"There is still an important role for the high street to play as it secures a sustainable future to support online and leisure activity.

 

"We are seeing the high street evolve into an experiential destination, be it through leisure experiences or retailers restructuring their physical space to support online activity by showcasing products and attracting footfall through parcel collection and returns facilitation."

Nationally, there was a net loss of 2,481 stores from Great Britain's top 500 high streets in 2018 - 3,372 shops opened against 5,853 closures.

All UK regions analysed for the report posted a net loss for 2018.

Greater London and the South East were the two with the greatest, of 528 and 399 respectively, while Wales with 59 and Scotland with 119 posted the smallest.