According to new figures, nearly 190,000 jobs have been lost and more than 15,000 stores were forced to close in the retail bloodbath since the first national lockdown a year ago.
The Centre for Retail Research has unveiled that 188,685 retail jobs in the United Kingdom disappeared between the start of the first lockdown on March 23 2020 and March 31 this year in exclusive data for the PA news agency.
The figures come less than two weeks before non-essential shops reopen their doors to customers in England after the long third lockdown.
However, customers will find high streets and town centres have been hit hard by the pandemic, with thousands of stores closing their doors for good.
The numbers unveiled that 83,725 jobs lost in the period were due to administrations, including major collapses by Debenhams and Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group.
Meanwhile, about 11,986 jobs were cut during Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) restructuring processes.
Another 92,974 jobs were axed through rationalisation programmes, which included supermarkets Sainsbury’s and Asda cutting thousands of positions.
The figures also unveiled that the overwhelming impact of the pandemic resulted in 15,153 store closures in shopping destinations across the United Kingdom, and according to real estate adviser Altus Group, up to 401,690 stores are currently shuttered around the country and could reopen in the next step of the Prime Minister’s road map out of lockdown.
Retail bosses have raised concerns that the high street will still be extremely challenging for retailers despite the easing of restrictions, as business rates payments return for many.
Robert Hayton, UK president of property tax at Altus, warned that the current business rates regime could cause further destruction, and he said that come July 1, large retailers in England will effectively be returned to full business rates liabilities, calculated by reference to rents being paid six years ago, with the basic right to appeal to seek valuation adjustments being retrospectively withdrawn.
A Government spokeswoman said that they’ve continued to help the retail sector during the pandemic, including their new £5 billion Restart Grant scheme, extending the furlough scheme and the VAT cut, providing 750,000 businesses in retail and other areas with business rates relief and a £350 billion package to support jobs and livelihoods.
And it was said that as they build back better from coronavirus they want to see the high streets flourish, and that they’ve put in place an accelerated £1 billion Future High Streets Fund, a £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund and are working with local leaders through the High Street Taskforce, all to support town centres, high street regeneration and drive growth across the United Kingdom.
Sadly, the world has changed, and the High Streets have become a particularly expensive place to trade, with greedy landlords and business rates that have added another 60 per cent of the rental value on top, and it’s far too late to address the expense.
And the High Street will now have to evolve, offering more modest boutique type premises, leisure and socialising establishments to become relevant once again. This may even mean changing some premises to residential, while specialist larger stores will still flourish on the edge of town retail centres and online, and we may have to accept this and deal with it.
Or do they just want everyone to stay indoors, with no town centre recovery, and with killjoy councils and dog robbing landlords that will see to this. Turning towns into flats for immigrants and migrants, or perhaps posh ones for middle-class people. With the common people becoming too poor for lattes, fine dining and clubbing.
Or is this all part of the Great Reset Plan? With no plan to replace these jobs, turning high streets into blocks of flat with takeaways at street level.