THE wash-out start to the summer added to the woes of the high street, with the North East being particularly hard hit, a report warned today.
The weather was partially blamed for a 10.3% rise in retail collapses between April and June nationally, but the North East and Cumbria saw an increase of 70% to 277.
With high-profile failures including Julian Graves, Clinton Cards and Game, the number of retailers to fall into insolvency rose to 426 in the second quarter of 2012, up from 386 in the previous year, according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
The number of casualties has been escalating year on year for each of the past four quarters, highlighting the squeeze on the high street as hard-pressed shoppers cut back on non-essential items and seek out discounts.
The wettest April and June on record intensified those problems by keeping shoppers at home and dampening demand for summer clothes.
However, insolvencies across the wider economy, including other sectors such as construction and manufacturing, were down 3% on the previous year.
This adds weight to suggestions that recent official figures showing that gross domestic product (GDP) declined 0.7% in the quarter may be overestimating the severity of the double-dip recession.
PwC retail specialist Mike Jervis said: “There has been a clear reduction in the incidence of insolvencies over the current recession compared to previous ones, but retail is the sector which keeps bucking this trend.”
He said many retailers have too many high street stores, while shoppers are increasingly migrating online to operators such as Amazon.
Mothercare, JJB Sports and Halfords have all revealed dismal results in recent weeks as the wet weather piled more pain on the struggling sector.
The PwC survey showed that, while the North East was particularly hard hit, the West saw failure levels drop nearly a third to 117.