// Retailers shed 176,718 jobs in 2020 after Covid pandemic deepens high street woes
// About 3400 jobs within the retail sector vanished each week during the year, according to Centre for Retail Research
// The total number of overall retail jobs lost in 2020 was up by almost a quarter on the 143,128 lost in 2019
The turmoil on the high street saw 176,718 jobs lost across retailers during 2020, according to new figures showing the dramatic impact of the pandemic.
Data from the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) has shown about 3400 jobs within the retail sector vanished each week during the year.
Experts from the organisation have warned that even more jobs could go in 2021 as debt burdens, changes to legislation and continued online growth are set to weigh further on high street stores.
The CRR said the 176,718 jobs were lost across high streets, main shopping destinations, towns and villages, as well as small shopping parades and isolated stores across the UK.
Of that total, it said 71,811 jobs were lost through retailers falling into administration.
Major retail firms including Debenhams, Philip Day’s Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group and Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group slashed hundreds of jobs after tumbling into administration during the year.
CRR’s data also showed that a further 11,986 jobs were lost through CVAs deals, a controversial insolvency procedure used to close loss-making stores and secure rent cuts.
River Island, Clarks and New Look are among retailers to launch CVAs in 2020 to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic.
The CRR added that a further 92,921 jobs were lost through “rationalisation” as part of cost-cutting or restructuring programmes by large retailers, or small shops simply shutting for good, which was up 18.3 per cent on 2019
The total number of overall retail jobs lost in 2020 was up by almost a quarter on the 143,128 overall jobs lost during 2019.
CRR director Professor Joshua Bamfield warned up to 200,000 jobs could vanish in 2021.
“Our forecast is based upon a number of factors such as the cumulative effects of months of closure and its impact upon cash flow and rent arrears that will be payable when the moratorium ends,” he said.
“Whilst the longer-term effects of the greater use by shoppers of all kinds of online retailing is likely to be hugely damaging for physical stores.”
According to real estate advisory firm Altus Group, 436,000 business premises in England are now closed under Tier 3 and Tier 4 restrictions, including 310,504 non-essential shops, 37,581 pubs and 27,028 restaurants.
With the current one-year business rates holiday set to end in March, Altus Group head of property Robert Hayton said: “It is crucial that government ensures future support is targeted to where it is needed, including funding the Valuation Office so it can expedite settlement of the tens of thousands of formal challenges against business rates assessments that must now be reduced to reflect the impact of Covid before bills are sent out.”
with PA Wires