Apr 6, 2021
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UK pandemic retail: 15k+ stores lost, 190k jobs gone - report

Apr 6, 2021

The number of UK jobs and stores lost in pandemic-hit retail continues to rise. Since non-essential stores were first forced to close a year ago, almost 190,000 jobs have been eliminated and 15,153 stores have closed permanently, new figures reveal.

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Some 188,685 retail jobs have gone between the start of the first lockdown on 23 March 2020 and 31 March this year, data from The Centre for Retail Research (CRR) for news agency the Press Association shows.

The CRR figures also reveal that 83,725 jobs lost in the period were via administrations. Another 11,986 jobs were cut during company voluntary arrangement processes as CVAs were used to drastically reduce unwanted stores and cut rents.

A further 92,974 jobs were axed through rationalisation programmes in order for firm’s to cut costs by reducing staffing levels.

The bad news comes just a week ahead of non-essential stores reopening in England after a near-four-month lockdown. Major physical store losses across the three lockdowns included Debenhams, a proportion of the John Lewis estate and Arcadia’s basket of fashion brands, including TopShop and TopMan.

According to the real estate adviser Altus Group, over 401,000 stores are currently shut around the UK and could reopen as part of the government’s reopening plan that begins this month.

However, retail bosses have raised concerns that the high street will still be very challenging for retailers despite the easing of restrictions, as business rates payments return for many.

Robert Hayton, the UK president of property tax at Altus, told The Guardian newspaper that the current business rates system could bring further devastation.

He said: “Come 1 July, large retailers in England will [in effect] be returned to full business rates liabilities, calculated by reference to rents being paid six years ago, bearing no resemblance to the here and now, with the fundamental right of appeal to seek valuation adjustments being retrospectively removed”.

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