Nearly 150,000 jobs have been lost and 20,000 outlets closed in the past year on Britain’s embattled high streets, with experts predicting a repeat in 2019 without firm Government action.
End of year figures compiled by the Centre for Retail Research show that, across the retail and hospitality sectors, from shops to restaurants on Britain’s high streets, 148,132 jobs have been lost.
94,256 jobs were lost through administrations and liquidations whilst a further 29,664 jobs have been lost through CVAs’ with a further 24,212 jobs lost through companies reducing their estates and headcount causing a total of 19,631 outlets to lower their shutters and close for good during 2018.
Major retail failures throughout the year – House of Fraser, Maplins, Toys R Us, Poundworld – foreshadowed a grim pre-Christmas trading period in which footfall on the high street declined for the twelfth month in a row, leading to predictions of the quietest festive period since the financial crisis of 2007.
Professor Joshua Bamfield of the Centre for Retail Research says “each one of these figures is a personal tragedy for the people involved and the community where the shops are located.”
Bamfield added “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 Altus Group say business rates bills next April, for 2019/20, for nearly 50,000 retail premises who’s Rateable Value is above £51,000 and precluded from the new retail relief, which will discount bills by a third, will be forced to pay an extra £127.88 million in inflationary rate rises pegged to September’s CPI rate.
Robert Hayton, Head of U.K. business rates at Altus Group, says next year will be “critical” for the high street and expects businesses to move swiftly saying, “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.”