Over half a million retail jobs have been lost and over 70,000 stores closed across the UK since 2017, according to new figures.
The Centre for Retail Research found that 645,204 retail jobs have been lost since 2017, while 72,580 stores have closed across the UK during the same period.
This figure included 105,727 retail jobs lost last year as the continuation of the furlough scheme kept losses below previous years.
The demise of high street chains such as Debenhams and the closure of Arcadia Group’s stores, which included retail chains such as Topshop and Dorothy Perkins, were key drivers behind these figures, as well as more recent job losses at TM Lewin and Missguided.
These figures come as the high street faces a significant uptick in business rates payments next year, following a pause on payments during the pandemic – a move which Altus Group’s UK president Robert Hayton said would hurt the retail sector’s chances of recovery.
“Taking from those sectors and regions that have struggled, where rents have significantly dropped, would be foolhardy, affording them no respite to recover and rebuild,” he said.
“It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul, and certainly doesn’t aid the levelling up of prosperity.”
Retailers are also facing the daunting prospect of household spending will shrinking next year. The CBI forecasts that the economy will grow 3.7% this year, down from earlier projections of 5.5%, and grow by just 1% in 2023.
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