Funeral directors defy high street ‘apocalypse’

The funeral sector has continued to grow, despite research showing that the high street has experienced its lowest level of openings in seven years.

Overall, the data compiled by Local Data Company (LDC) for PwC revealed that service retail outperformed the leisure and goods market.

The report, which studied 500 town centres across the country, showed that the number of new stores opened on the UK high street feel by 10% from 4,534 in 2016 to 4,083 in 2017.

It was also revealed that an average of 16 stores a day closed in 2017, bringing the total to 5,855 for the year.

However, funeral directors and monumental masons saw an increase of 12 units for the year of 2017, coming out on top compared to other service retail businesses, such as barbers, travel agents and vehicle hire companies.

There were 22 new funeral director businesses opened on the high street in 2017 and 10 closures.

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said: “2017 was tough for the British retail industry, particularly the second half of the year. We saw volatility from month to month and across different sectors as wage growth failed to keep up with inflation, forcing many shoppers to think more carefully about their spending habits.

“It’s important to remember the British high street still plays a vital role in society and there are elements of growth amongst the headline numbers of decline.

Lucy Stainton, senior relationship manager (retail) of LDC, added: “Businesses with a relevant proposition and a strong understanding of their customer can absolutely still thrive in the right locations”

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