Job losses in retail have hit an astounding 21,413 since the start of the year in the bleakest quarter for the industry since the financial crash.
According to new data from the Press Association, tens of thousands of staff have been made redundant or have seen their jobs come under threat since January, many from large high street firms.
Just last week off-license owner Conviviality became the latest casualty, putting 2600 jobs in jeopardy as it announced intentions to bring in administrators.
In May last year the Bargain Booze owner revealed that its group sales had almost doubled to £1.56 billion, laying bear the rapidity of its demise.
Conviviality was the latest in a string of similar stories.
In the last few weeks alone fashion retailer Select reported it was filing for a CVA affecting nearly 2000 jobs, while Claire’s Accessories’ US counterpart announced intentions to file for bankruptcy in early March, though it is not yet clear how this will affect its UK operations.
New Look also confirmed intentions to shut 60 stores in another CVA last month affecting almost 1000 staff.
Toys R Us and Maplin both failed to find a buyer before payment deadlines were due in February, leading both companies to appoint administrators on the same day and plunging thousands more staff into imminent redundancy.
Large supermarkets have also contributed to the staggering number of job cuts, with Morrisons, Tesco and Sainsbury’s announcing over 5200 redundancies since the start of the year as they seek to streamline their operations.
Many of these headline collapses and subsequent job losses are due to what has been described as a “perfect storm” for the retail sector.
The devaluation of the sterling has caused the prices of imports to jump, and has reduced the spending power of consumers adding caution to their spending habits.
Meanwhile, many long-running businesses like Maplin and Toys R Us have struggled to keep up with the threat of online giants like Amazon.
With many items available cheaply and conveniently online, customers have been leaving these retailers in swathes, meaning there is less money available for retailers to meet rising business rates and wage costs.
“A strong economy doesn’t see job losses like this. It’s time to invest in British industry and put forward a plan for real jobs, that pay a decent wage,” GMB union general secretary Tim Roache said.
“It’s not rocket science, but such a level of common sense seems to be escaping ministers, who are busy concentrating on backbench Brexit squabbles, and not sorting out the economy.
“And when the government does try to tackle industry issues, it fails to include any voice for workers, giving the impression that their views aren’t legitimate despite working at the coal face in British industries.”