‘Worst year for High Street job losses in 25 years’
Last year was the worst for the High Street in more than 25 years as the coronavirus accelerated the move towards online shopping, analysts say. The BBC is reporting that nearly 180,000 retail jobs were lost in the UK in 2020, up by almost a quarter on the previous year, according to the Centre for Retail Research (CRR).
It warned there will be more pain for the sector in 2021 as retailers face a cash flow crisis and rent payments. It has predicted up to 200,000 more retail jobs will be at risk in 2021.
Worst Year for High Street Job Losses
Professor Joshua Bamfield, a director at the Centre for Retail Research, said its forecast was based on “the cumulative effects of months of closure and its impact upon cash flow and rent arrears that will be payable when the moratorium ends.
“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,” he added.
Major brands including Topshop-owner Arcadia, Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group and Debenhams slashed hundreds of jobs after collapsing into administration during the year.
Susannah Streeter, the market analyst at Hargreaves Landsdown, said the pandemic alone couldn’t “be blamed for the collapse of household names. It merely accelerated the shift to digital,” she said. She says that 2021 will be a “year of painful evolution” for the sector.
“Debenhams has been the key anchor store in city centres for decades, but fell behind fashion trends, whilst locked into long leases with rising rents with underperforming online sales.
“Topshop was still the leader of the High Street fashion pack a decade ago, but underinvestment in e-commerce and social media, saw it leapfrogged by savvy online rivals like Boohoo and Asos.”
Currently around three million people in the UK work in retail.
The CRR warned that on-going Tier 4 restrictions and a delayed rollout of coronavirus vaccines in the UK could spark up to 200,000 job losses.