While the UK high street is encountering some headwinds, there are certain sub-sectors that are thriving, with Health & beauty leading the way in net location openings.

English and Welsh town centres have lost 8% of their shops on average since 2013. Some major cities such as Stoke-on-Trent and Blackpool have closed two out of ten town centre sites over the past five years.

Analysing the apparent high street decline by category reveals some interesting trends. There were 751 net closures in clothing stores during the period, 638 net closures of hobby and sport equipment stores and 434 net closures of restaurants. 

However, at the other end of the spectrum, there has been a significant increase in certain categories over time. This suggests that while there is an overall decline in the number of high street stores, we could be experiencing a temporary shake out from the high street as channel dynamics shift online (e.g. apparel) and towards the home (e.g. the Deliveroo impact on restaurants), making way for areas where demand is greater in bricks and mortar.

Hair and beauty services, for example, have experienced a 1,006 net increase in the number of UK high street sites since 2013, with pubs and bars (+282), cafes (+284), takeaways (+518) and convenience stores also winning. 

On a location basis, Brighton and Hove has alone gained an impressive 41 salons, with Stoke-on-Trent being only one of four town centres that have lost hair and beauty salons.

There is a global obsession with wellness and beauty that is proliferating online through the rise in social media penetration. However, it should not be underestimated how beneficial that dynamic can be for service providers that rely on footfall and consumers' willingness to travel in order to thrive.