Almost 190,000 retail jobs have been lost since shops first closed their doors last year due to the Covid pandemic, new figures have revealed.
The Centre for Retail Research revealed in exclusive data for the PA news agency that 188,685 retail jobs have gone between the start of the first lockdown on 23 March 2020 and 31 March this year.
Jobs lost due to administrations, restructuring processes and rationalisation programmes
The retail sector has been hit hard by the pandemic, with stores having to temporarily close during lockdowns across the UK.
Some stores have also felt the full impact of closures, and are having to shut their doors for good.
The figures showed that 83,725 jobs lost in the time period were due to administrations, including the collapse of department chain store Debenhams, and Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group.
Around 11,986 jobs were cut during Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) restructuring processes and another 92,974 jobs were lost through rationalisation programmes, including chain supermarkets Sainsbury’s and Asda axing thousands of roles.
The figures also revealed that there were 15,153 store closures in shopping destinations across the UK.
‘We have continued to support the retail sector throughout the pandemic’
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said that although she believes “there absolutely will remain shops in high streets,” in the future, the Government needs to act in order to bring down the burden of business rates.
Ms Dickson told BBC Breakfast: “People in retail, and in hospitality, anybody who operates commercial premises, always talks about business rates.
“So these are the taxes that are paid on shops, on restaurants, on coffee shops, and they have just become completely out of line with the economic reality of operating, and so the Government needs to act there to bring that burden down, and that will facilitate much more investment that we need to see to maintain local jobs in local communities and stop those boarded-up shops and restaurants up and down the country.”
A Government spokeswoman said: “We have continued to support the retail sector throughout the pandemic, including our new £5 billion Restart Grant scheme, extending the furlough scheme and the VAT cut, providing 750,000 businesses in retail and other sectors with business rates relief and a £350 billion package to support jobs and livelihoods.
“As we build back better from coronavirus we want to see our highstreets thrive. We have put in place an accelerated £1 billion Future High Streets Fund, a £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund and are working with local leaders through the High Street Taskforce, all to support town centres, high street regeneration and drive growth across the UK.”