// Experts warn that that thousands of shops may not re-open after the coronavirus lockdown
// 20,600 shops expected to not re-open by the end of the year, according to new figures
// This compares to the 4547 that closed in 2019
Thousands of shops up and down the country may have closed their doors for the last time this week following the government’s coronavirus lockdown, experts have warned.
According to new figures from the Centre for Retail Research, more than 20,600 stores are expected to have pulled their shutters down for the final time by the end of the year – a massive leap on the 4547 that closed in 2019.
As a result, job losses are predicted to reach more than 235,000, up from less than 93,000 last year. That is both in closing stores and in those cutting back on staff.
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“We expect large retail businesses to now be looking at exactly how many stores they expect to operate in 2021 and beyond in order to trade successfully moving forward,” Centre for Retail Research director Professor Joshua Bamfield said.
“They will now make plans to achieve those objectives.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that all non-essential shops would have to close for at least three weeks as the country grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bamfield said that government efforts to help business – such as the one-year business rates holiday, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and a deferral of VAT and National Insurance payments – will have taken some of the edge off some of the closures and job losses.
However supermarkets could see an upswing, with fears of the pandemic prompting many customers to panic buy and stock up their pantries, freezers and wine racks.
The Centre for Retail Research predicts it could be the best year since 2011 for the supermarkets, although most of the 45,000 grocery jobs created to help cope with the soaring demand are not expected to become permanent.
The retail sector had sales of £384 billion last year and employs almost 3.5 million people both directly and in distribution and other retail services.
Alex Probyn, the UK president of Altus Group, a real estate adviser, said high street rents were also likely to be pushed down.
He called for the government to reset business rates on April 1 2022, but based on rents paid a year earlier.
“This will have the benefit of ensuring the next revaluation period takes account of the economic impact of Covid-19, delivering longer-term help with lower tax bills under the next cycle,” he said.
with PA Wires