There has been a significant drop in the numbers of high street chain stores closing, with restaurants seeing net growth, according to new data from PwC.

The number of closures in the first six months of 2022 were a third less than in the first half of 2021, said the accountancy firm.

While shop openings are still below pre-Covid levels, closures are now at their lowest level for seven years.

The analysis, which covers businesses with more than five outlets, found that 6,146 stores – from retail and hospitality to gyms and hairdressers – permanently shut their doors in H1 2022, compared to 11,120 over the same period in 2021, with 3,888 new sites opening.

In terms of the net change by type of outlet, restaurant numbers up by 17, and the number of takeaways up by 73.

“Restaurant chains are actually back in growth for the first time in five years and that’s because we can’t replace that kind of eating and drinking at home,” Kien Tan, director of retail strategy at PwC told the BBC.

The accountancy firm said the shock of the pandemic had “eased” but warned that high inflation would hit the retail sector.

The firm produced the research in partnership with the Local Data Company (LDC), which tracks over 3,000 locations, including high streets, retail parks and shopping centres in England, Wales and Scotland.

“The good news is that we’re back on high streets, there are more people out shopping and eating,” Tan said. “But the bad news is inflation hangs over us.

“It will affect shoppers in their pocket. But it will also affect businesses in terms of higher bills to pay. So there could be more closures to come.”

Speaking to the BBC, Loungers chief executive Nick Collins said changes in the property market had helped the business expand, with the firm seizing the opportunity to move into sites vacated by other retailers.