The number of stores on UK high streets declined for a third consecutive year in 2013, with women's clothing and fashion shops one of the hardest hit categories.

Although the overall number of stores fell, it was at a slower pace year-on-year. Data compiled for PwC by The Local Data Company (LDC) found multiple retailers - shops with more than five outlets - closed 16 stores a day on average across the top 500 town centres in 2013, down from 20 a day in 2012.

But the number of women's clothing and fashion shops declined by 7% and 2.3% respectively, while sports goods shops actually saw an increase of 5.3%.

Mark Hudson, PwC's retail consulting leader, said: "2013 saw a continuation of the high street metamorphosis driven by consumers changing behaviour as they adopt the newer digital channels and technologies available to them.

"Casualties have been in those areas where we have seen a rapid shift online - travel, fashion, digital photography and DVDs, and banks. Those trends will continue."

While LDC director Matthew Hopkinson described last year as a "turning point" for retail in town centres across the UK.

"The data reflects the ongoing structural changes taking place in our town centres and the continuing consolidation of ‘anchor stores' into fewer but larger shops, which are either in megamalls or out-of- town retail parks," he said. 

"The oversupply of shops nationally has resulted in reduced rents and created opportunities for what many perceive as less desirable shops (betting shops, cheque cashing and tattoo parlours) to fill the vacuum left by the retreating ‘anchor chains'."