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They often say one person’s misfortune is another person’s gain. Over the coming years, that is increasingly going to be the case for small and not so small shops up and down the country.

Shops are going to close in their droves and that will present opportunities for property investors who can find profitable new uses for them.


Back in the nineties, pubs started to close down and few people realised what was happening.

Supermarkets were muscling in on alcohol by selling booze more cheaply and small pubs simply could not compete.

Chain pubs like Wetherspoons and Slug & Lettuce appeared on the scene and started to squeeze the life out of smaller pubs by offering food of predictable quality, cheaper beer prices and better looking bars. 

Then the smoking ban came along (in England on the 1st July 2007) and hit all pubs for six – large and small.  Escalating excise duties also did irreparable harm.

From 2007 to 2015, 7,000 pubs closed in the UK.

The big picture was that pubs had passed their sell by date. They could not cope with changing market conditions.

And guess what?

It’s happening again…with shops – small corner shops as well as big department stores. They are all under threat. They face the same fate as pubs.



The UK is meant to be a nation of shopkeepers but that is well on the way to being consigned to the historical dustbin thanks to Amazon, Ebay and numerous other online retailers now ruling the retail market. 

Like it or not, shops are the new pubs…doomed to inevitable closure in huge numbers as a result of irresistible market changes –notwithstanding any soothing words you may hear from the latest “retail czar” battling to save shops on the high street.

High street retail royalty Marks & Spencer announced 17 store closures recently – the latest tranche of a total of 100 stores it intends to close by 2022.

Top retailer Sir John Timpson is quoted by the BBC as saying the UK has “twice as many shops as needed”.

Leading accountants PcW reported in November last year that shops are closing at the rate of 14 a day. The number of stores on our top 500 high streets fell by 1,123 in the first 6 months of 2018.

All this is desperately sad news for shopkeepers of all sizes, but it is also a fantastic opportunity for others willing and able to explore other uses for shops – uses such as residential, community, leisure and lifestyle.

If you are a property landlord or investor looking for “the next big thing”, you cannot go too far wrong by looking at shops.

You may even be able to benefit from the government’s new £675 million Future High Streets Fund.

With demand for shops tanking, they are in plentiful supply everywhere in the country and are a great bargain in many cases. They are versatile buildings, coming in all shapes and sizes – offering endless scope in terms of conversion, change of use and building.

A shop may be suitable for:

  • Residential conversion
  • Semi-commercial use, part commercial part residential
  • Change to new commercial use
  • Adding extensions
  • Demolition and new buildings
  • Title splitting.

If you want a property project full of possibilities and opportunities, buying a shop is as good an idea as any.

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The slow death of buy to let (signs of the continuing decline of buy to let)
The scary future for tenants (the perils of being a tenant long-term)

What do you think is the future for shops? Please leave your comments or observations below.

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Dalton Barrett
Rebel Property Coach

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  1. Seems like a good opportunity to create live/work space for artists. The large window fronts would be ideal for displaying creations as well.

    1. I think it will be a fantastic opportunity and I like your idea of live/work space for artists. I think we will see our high streets used for a whole new range of activities, social, community, leisure, educational and housing.

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