Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 3rd July 2018
Retailers throughout the UK have collectively shed tens of thousands of jobs already in 2018 as they contend with an array of issues putting pressure on their finances.
The Press Association has reported that up to 50,000 jobs were either lost or put in serious jeopardy within Britain’s retail sector over the course of the first half of this year.
Heightened levels of inflation and a relative lack of consumer confidence have contributed towards making life more difficult for retailers across a wide range of sectors.
Increases in business rate expenses have also served to squeeze profit margins for thousands of high street retailers, many of whom are teetering close to or have already entered administration.
Well known retailers such as Toys R Us and the electronics company Maplin recently entered administration, while several others, including House of Fraser, have been shedding jobs on a very considerable scale in recent weeks.
“Retail depends on customers having money in their pockets. One reason why some shops are struggling is because wage growth has been very weak,” commented Frances O’Grady from the Trades Union Congress, in a statement responding to the Press Association’s recent findings on retail sector job losses.
“Government needs to up its game, boost the economy and invest in great jobs that people can live on,” she said.
According to Robert Hayton, head of UK business rates at the management consultancy firm Altus, business rate rises have been pushing an increasing number of high street retailers towards insolvency and administration.
“Business rates are rarely the sole driver for insolvencies but certainly a contributory factor, with bills having risen by more than a fifth through inflation during the seven years before last year’s revaluation,” he said.
“Add that to the lethal cocktail of other increased operating costs for the national living wage and apprenticeship levy and it creates the perfect storm for 2018 being the year of the CVA.”
Among the most high profile retail sector collapses of recent weeks was that which saw Poundworld head into administration and put more than 5,000 jobs at risk.
The Press Association has said a majority of the 50,000 retail jobs it believes to have gone or to have been put at risk recently were linked to what might be thought of as ‘big name’ companies with stores across the country.