U.S. Markets closed

Number of UK shops falls at slower pace than a year ago - study

LONDON (Reuters) - More British shops closed than opened in the first half of this year although the net fall in store numbers was 78 percent smaller than in the first six months of 2012, according to research from consultants PwC and the Local Data Company (LDC).

The results published on Tuesday of their study of 500 British town centres showed 3,366 retail outlets closed in the first six months of the year, or 18 a day, compared with 3,157 openings, a net reduction of 209 shops.

That compared to a net reduction of 953 in the first half of 2012, made up of 2,670 openings and 3,623 closures, or more than 20 a day.

The research illustrated the changing profile of Britain's town centres with nearly 500 net closures of clothing, shoe, furniture, photographic and video shops but net openings of 97 charity shops, 62 cheque cashing outlets, 53 betting shops and 52 grocery convenience stores.

The figures partly reflected the collapse into administration in January of camera specialist Jessops and video retailer Blockbuster and a push by Britain's "big four' grocers, Tesco (TSCO.L), Asda (WMT.N), J Sainsbury (SBRY.L), and Morrisons (MRW.L) to open more local convenience stores.

While recent official data and surveys have shown an improving outlook for UK consumer spending, which generates about two thirds of gross domestic product, retailers remain cautious over prospects for a sustained recovery.

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Anthony Barker)