The announcement last week that Debenhams has plans to close 50 of its stores across the UK over the next three to five years, could devastate high streets in Wales, according to experts.
Debenhams has stores ten stores across Wales, which are based in Bangor, Cardiff , Swansea, Wrexham, Newport, Llanelli, Carmarthen, Merthyr, Llandudno and Haverfordwest.
Dr Gareth Harvey, a lecturer on consumer psychology at Bangor University, said: “If we start to see a number of these stores closing in Wales then it’s likely we’re going to see an escalation in other high street stores struggling as well.
“A factor in this has obviously been online shopping. The internet provides us with more convenience.
“There’s a lot of evidence though for some consumers that we still may browse on the high street, but we don’t make that final purchase there.”
The news of the closures follows that of Arch Angelz Limited, which operated the “beauty bar” in Debenhams stores, including Bangor, who went into administration in October. The Swansea-based beauty company was established in 2008 and operated 31 concessions in Debenhams stores, seven of the concessions are in Wales.
Debenhams recorded a loss of nearly £500 million last year, the biggest loss in its 240 year history, and the store closures would put 4,000 jobs at risk.
Sofie Willmott, a senior retail analyst at GlobalData, said: “Closures will have a significant impact on smaller town centres, many of which are unlikely to have another major anchor store. Footfall will be affected and as a result other retailers on the high street will be hit by Debenhams’ closures.”
A Debenhams spokeswoman said: “We have identified up to 50 stores, accounting for under 15% of total sales, which are currently profitable, but where we do not see a long term future and which we intend to exit over the next three to five years.
“This is an ongoing five year programme and we are not disclosing a list of these stores.”