"Shopping in high streets and malls has become less pleasant"

"Shopping in high streets and malls has become less pleasant"

New data predicts that around 200,000 UK retail jobs could be lost this year, with the first half of 2021 looking much the same as 2020.

New figures from The Centre for Retail Research found that 176,718 jobs were lost in 2020 to 31 December, while 15,747 stores closed.

Jobs lost through retailers falling into administration totalled 71,811, while a further 11,968 were lost through Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs). The number lost through 'rationalisation', or cost cutting programmes, totalled 92,921.

"The effect of the coronavirus lockdowns and the various Tier restrictions in England and other parts of the UK have come on top of retail's existing problems," The Centre for Retail Research says. "It has been a hammer blow against the sector, which has particularly disadvantaged most non-food stores. Shopping in high streets and malls has become less pleasant.

"Hygiene and social-distancing rules and the frequent closure or restriction upon hospitality have made a day out shopping impossible for part of the year and an obstacle course even when shops are open."

The Centre for Retail Research says the first half of 2021 looks much like 2020, only worse, with expectations of 200,000 job losses in the sector "and a lot more bad news about corporate failures".

"Several important retailers have already gone bust and we expect many more to do so, making [2019] the worst year since 2008/9. Many companies in a better financial position will not go bust, but have to rationalise their store portfolios. Moreover, the massive peak in online sales, whilst physical shops have been shuttered, presents greater problems for British high streets because many shoppers will not return.

"The retail crisis in jobs, businesses, stores and high streets has been coming for a long time."

The last year has seen the collapse of a number of high street stalwarts as the pandemic placed further pressure on businesses and the lockdowns forced the closure of stores, prompting a greater shift to online. 

Last month saw the demise of department store retailer Debenhams and Arcadia, which owns the Topshop and Dorothy Perkins brands, among others.

Debenhams has since begun a wind-down of its operations after JD Sports Fashion, Britain's largest sportswear retailer, ended rescue talks. UK-based women's value clothing retailer Bonmarché also went into administration for the second time in just over a year.