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Published on January 23rd, 2020 | by The GC Team

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Retail agony: job losses mount as sector struggles

57,000 retail jobs were lost in the final quarter of 2019 following the worst year on record for retail sales growth.

Figures from the British Retail Consortium show that the three-month period represented the 16th consecutive quarter of year-on-year decline, but the fall of 1.8% was well below the 2.8% recorded in the same period of 2018.

An earlier report from the Centre for Retail Research showed that more than 140,000 jobs were lost in the 12 months of 2019, up from 117,000 in 2018, with 2020 forecast to bring further losses of 171,669 jobs and store closures estimated to reach 17,565. 

The CRR said the retail crisis was caused by “high costs, low profitability, and losing sales to online shopping.” 

Commenting on the British Retail Consortium’s Q4 Retail Employment Monitor, Chief Executive of the organisation Helen Dickinson said there were many challenges for retailers in 2019: “Businesses had to contend with the repeated risk of no-deal Brexit, a general election and the ongoing transformation of the industry, leading to weak consumer demand. As a result, employment has suffered in retail, the UK’s largest private sector employer.”

Dickinson pointed out that retail offers many people their first job, a range of flexible working options, and huge opportunities for progression, and said it is worrying that the Government is standing by while tens of thousands of jobs are being lost.

“If the same was true in manufacturing or aviation, one can be sure that the Government would act,” she asserted.

“There are opportunities for action and the Government’s review of business rates could not come at a more crucial time. It is essential that they reform this broken system and rectify a tax that sees retail, which accounts for 5% of the economy, pay 25% of the burden.”

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