Sometimes August is seen as a quiet month in retail – not much happens and very few announcements are made.

In the new world, it seems that’s another rule that can be struck out of the book. This month, we’ve seen 4,500 jobs put at risk of redundancy by Tesco, retail workers at Coast, Karen Millen and Jack Wills facing at best an uncertain future, and little confidence that these are the last headlines on job losses we will see this year in the sector.

While we ‘in the industry’ know that it’s a really big deal, the really big deal is in households across the UK who are feeling the real impact of the revolution in retail.

“In the manufacturing industry there is stronger, louder representation with government and management of businesses”

The jobs that are disappearing are jobs of real everyday, hardworking people. Many of these people need local jobs that fit around the other things they do. They are jobs that allow society in local communities to run efficiently and smoothly.

Why? Because these are the jobs that make up the backbone of Britain; many of these workers are women who combine hours in retail with caring responsibilities for children and dependent members of their families. Others are combining working in retail with education, earning money to help them make ends meet and achieve greater things.

Many are in low-income families without access to cars and reliant on public transport to get to work in town centres less than five miles from their front doors.

Many of the hourly paid colleagues in retail are not members of unions, unlike their counterparts in the manufacturing industry where there is stronger, louder representation with government and management of businesses.

Lack of government action

Beyond the immediate impact of job loss and the economic trauma for the individual, there is then the challenge of finding employment locally that has the flexibility to support all the other tasks of modern family life. From managing wrap-around childcare to checking on elderly parents and hospital visits, the list goes on.

When it becomes impossible to find work or economically unviable to work and pay for childcare, we will lose valuable members of the workforce – women in particular – which will have a direct economic effect because when you aren’t earning you aren’t spending.

Some of the impact isn’t visible immediately. For many retail workers, the vital ingredient in enjoying their jobs is the teamwork and camaraderie they have when they are at work. That’s so important for social cohesion, positive mental health and staving off loneliness.

“Many ex-retail workers who miss the social aspect of working in-store are volunteering at their local charity shops”

Many retail workers are struggling to find jobs that suit their skills and it’s clear that many highly trained retail professionals will never be in a position to use these skills again. Research commissioned by Radio 4’s You and Yours programme recently revealed that 40% of retail workers found alternative employment within 12 weeks, but that they moved into service businesses, the care industries or manufacturing, where their skills could not be used.

While this is obviously bad news for the UK economy, the impact locally can be devastating. Former BHS workers in South Shields were interviewed by the programme and three years later, the blow from the store closure has had far-reaching consequences on the workers that lost their jobs including mental health problems, working away from home and taking on three jobs to fit around childcare.

I spoke recently with leading charity retail organisations that report that they are supporting many ex-retail workers who miss the social aspect of working in-store by volunteering at their local charity shops.

There are no winners in this situation.

The spectacular lack of action from the government about really addressing the importance of the retail sector to the UK economy and ensuring we support our high street retailers rather than tax them out of business will be something that will cost society much more than we should ever be willing to pay.