After a torrid 2018 for Britain’s beleaguered high streets, traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers continue to feel the strain after a disappointing Christmas as businesses continue to grapple with rising costs, subdued consumer confidence and an increase spend online with margins having coming under pressure.
18,722 people working for chains on Britain’s high streets, 400 every single day, have either been made redundant or have had their jobs threatened since Christmas Day. A total of 14,377 jobs have been lost whilst a further 4,345 remain at risk.
Oddbins, Patisserie Valerie, Greenwoods, Chapelle, tReds and HMV have all entered administration with the music and film retailer being sold last week with the immediate closure of 27 stores leading to 455 job losses. Tesco, M&S and Santander have all announced thousands of jobs are to go.
On 25th March, high street stores will need to stump up for quarterly rent bills whilst 1st April heralds the start of a new tax year.
The standard tax rate, which applies to all medium and large premises in England with a rateable value over £51,000, will rise by 2.4% to 50.4p in England on 1st April. It will be the first time the tax rate for business rates in England will have gone above 50% and will add an extra £127.88 million to the rates burden for the retail sector according to real estate adviser, Altus Group.
The National Living Wage, the statutory minimum for workers aged 25 and over, will increase by 4.9% to £8.21 per hour on 1st April whilst rates for younger workers will also increase above inflation.
Robert Hayton, Head of U.K. business rates at Altus Group, said “It remains tough for high street businesses right now whilst Brexit uncertainty is also hurting both manufacturers and the services industries. During the last decade, revenue from business rates has risen by 32% in England up £6.04bn to £24.76bn for the current year. Next month’s Spring Statement shouldn’t just be an update on the UK’s economic outlook but a meaningful opportunity to deliver a stimulus to all sectors by freezing the planned rate rises.”