UK high street
PwC says coffee shops (up 2.99%) and discount stores (up 4.05%) have grownReuters

Coffee shops, bookmakers and discount stores are taking over UK high streets as the retailers were among those opening the most outlets in the first half of 2014, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The financial services firm, which commissioned Local Data Company to compile its data of the country's top 500 town centres, found the number of bookmakers had increased by 2.54% when compared to the first half of 2013.

The research also revealed coffee shops (up 2.99%) and discount stores (up 4.05%) saw steady growth over the same period.

"Traditional shops continue to be replaced by leisure (food, beverage and entertainment) and services have continued to decline especially in the area of pawnbroking, travel agents and financial services," said Mike Jervis, a retail specialist at PwC.

"As leases come up for renewal and the diversity in town centre health becomes even clearer then further changes are expected for the foreseeable future."

The study also found the rate of store closures has fallen again to 16 per day in the first half of 2014.

But PwC warned the gulf between openings and closures has widened as withdrawal levels remain high alongside significantly fewer debuts when looking at the year-on-year figures.

The study of 500 town centres across the UK showed 3,003 outlets closed in a six-month period compared to 2,597 openings, a net reduction of 406 shops.

This is almost twice as high as the net reduction in the first half of 2013 (209) when 3,157 stores opened and 3,366 stores closed.

The first half of 2014 gulf is also larger than the net closure rate of 371 for the whole of 2013 (6,033 closures vs 5,662 openings).