Over a quarter fewer non-food retail businesses failed last year than in 2009.
The latest Insolvency Index from Experian shows that there were 1,112 insolvencies in the sector in 2010 – a drop of 26.8%, and 1.32% of total UK business failures. In 2009 they comprised 1.78% of the total.
UK insolvencies as a whole also fell for the first time in two years in 2010, as the financial health of businesses improved. The figure dropped from 24,209 in 2009 to 19,946 in 2010 – an 18% fall. Overall, 1.04% of businesses failed in 2010, compared to 1.25% in 2009.
March 2010 saw the greatest number of insolvencies for the year, and the UK business community finished 2010 stronger than it started the year, with financial strength reaching a full-year high in December.
Experian says the picture is in sharp contrast to that of the last major recession of the early 1990s, when the rate escalated over a long period and peaked even as the country came out of recession.
The 2010 figures reveal a north-south divide, with firms in the south faring better, and a reversal of fortunes for the largest companies: those with more than 500 employees were not as resilient as they were in 2009.