Nearly 150,000 jobs have been lost and 20,000 outlets closed this year on the UK’s embattled high streets, with experts predicting a repeat next year without firm government action
According to research from the Centre for Retail Research (CRR), across the retail and hospitality sectors on the high street 148,132 jobs have been lost.
More than 94,200 jobs were lost through administrations and liquidations while almost 30,000 jobs have been lost through CVAs.
A further 24,200 jobs were lost through companies undergoing restructures that led to a reduction in their estates and staff numbers, causing a total of 19,631 outlets to shut down during 2018.
Major retail failures throughout the year – such as House of Fraser, Maplin, Toys R Us and Poundworld – foreshadowed a grim pre-Christmas trading period in which footfall on the high street declined for the 12th month in a row, leading to predictions of the quietest festive period since the global recession of 2007 and 2008.
“Each one of these figures is a personal tragedy for the people involved and the community where the shops are locate,” CRR’s Professor Joshua Bamfield said.
“While Parliament is obsessed with Brexit, business rates and low growth are killing the high street.
“We feel that 2019 is going to be a repeat of these dire figures unless or until the government takes action to provide a level playing field for both online retailers and the high street.”
Real estate adviser firm Altus Group highlighted how the next round of business rates bills in April would affect nearly 50,000 retail premises where the rateable value is above £51,000 and precluded from the new retail relief announced in the recent Budget.
It said that those retail premises would be forced to pay an extra £127.88 million in inflationary rate rises pegged to September’s CPI rate from the ONS.
Altus Group head of business rates Robert Hayton said 2019 would be “critical” for the high street and expected businesses to move swiftly.
“In the first quarter of 2019, once the dust has settled after the Christmas trading period, I envisage an intensification of action taken by businesses to reduce not only the extent of their estates but those rental costs too ahead of the critical 1st April 2019 assessment date which will then determine business rates liabilities from 2021,” he said.