Anxious retail industry staff are turning to professional advice helplines in their droves due to the uncertainty surrounding the future of many retail businesses, it has emerged today.
Retail Trust, the charity looking after the welfare of employees from the retail industry, says that calls from distressed workers have increased by 40 per cent year-on-year in June.
It comes after a week of turmoil for the industry, which has seen homewares specialist Habitat and women’s fashion retailer Jane Norman enter administration, and companies such as Homeform Group and TJ Hughes announce that administrators may be needed in the weeks ahead.
Chocolate seller Thorntons also revealed yesterday that it plans to close more than 100 stores in the next three years, which is sure to result in widespread job losses, whilst Carpetright announced that annual profits fell more than 70 per cent causing even more concern.
Retail Trust’s CEO Nigel Rothband said: “These are very difficult times for people in retail and as our tagline states Retail Trust is here to look after all people in retail and that’s exactly what we will do.
“Our helpline team are on hand now taking calls, answering emails and texts from worried retail staff and I would urge anyone worried about redundancy, debt, stress or anything else at all to get in touch with our team who are here to support them when they need us the most.”
Insolvency specialists R3 last week predicted that there would shortly be a number of retailers falling into difficulty due to ‘quarter day’ last Friday, the commercial rent deadline day.
Citing research from R3, the organisation’s President Frances Coulson said that more than half of consumers have cut down on purchasing non-essentials and 31 per cent of people are buying more items online, which when combined with rent payments and the impact of the weak economic environment has had a hugely negative effect on retail.
“These businesses have to pay rent regardless of whether they are seeing less money going through their tills,” she explained.
“For struggling retailers the demand for rent for the quarter has made them assess their profitability and sadly some have realised that they are unable to continue as they are.”