Britain’s beleaguered high streets have seen nearly 20,000 jobs lost or put in jeopardy since Christmas, as retailers struggle with mounting costs and falling consumer confidence.
Numbers crunched by Altus for the Press Association reveal 18,722 roles have been made redundant or put under threat since 25 December. A total of 14,377 jobs have been lost while a further 4,345 remain at risk.
The staggering figure, which amounts to around 400 jobs a day, reflects the collapse of several big high street names including HMV, Patisserie Valerie and Oddbins. In addition, the likes of Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Santander have all announced thousands of job losses.
Retailers have been battling the rise of online shopping, higher costs and low consumer confidence as shoppers rein in spending amid Brexit uncertainty.
Robert Hayton, head of UK business rates at Altus, said: “It remains tough for high street businesses right now whilst Brexit uncertainty is also hurting both manufacturers and the services industries.”
Business rates is the biggest overhead firms are grappling with and, on 25 March, high street stores will need to stump up more cash for their quarterly rent bills.
“During the last decade, revenue from business rates has risen by 32% in England, up £6.04bn to £24.76bn for the current year,” Hayton added.
“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.”
Businesses will also have to cater for an increase in the National Living Wage, which comes into effect on 1 April.
It will increase by 4.9% to £8.21 per hour on that date, and rates for younger workers will also increase above inflation.
The job loss figures are likely to alarm the Government and follow on from a torrid 2018, when struggling retailers axed nearly 150,000 jobs as almost 20,000 shops and restaurants closed their doors.
Poundworld, Toys R Us, Maplin and House of Fraser all went into administration, while distressed retailers including Mothercare, Carpetright, New Look and Homebase used company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) to close stores.
Several restaurant chains – Gaucho, Byron, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Prezzo and Jamie’s Italian – also shut outlets.