World Footwear


UK: 177 000 retail jobs lost in 2020

Jan 4, 2021 United Kingdom
UK: 177 000 retail jobs lost in 2020
The Centre for Retail Research found that a total of 176 718 retail jobs were lost in 2020. The same source is predicting a loss of an additional 200 000 jobs in 2021
The effect of the coronavirus lockdowns and the various Tier restrictions in England and other parts of the UK have added to retail's existing problems: "It has been a hammer blow against the sector, which has particularly disadvantaged most non-food stores", using the words of the Centre for Retail Research. 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. This scenario led to a total of 176 718 retail jobs lost in the UK in 2020, an average of 3 400 retail jobs each week.

Of the total, 71 811 jobs were lost through retailers falling into administration, while a further 11 968 were lost through Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs) and 92 921 jobs were lost through rationalisation*, cost cutting programmes by large retailers or small shops shutting for good.

The total number of retail jobs lost in 2020 was up by almost a quarter, compared to 143 128 jobs lost during 2019. The already dark scenario in retail jobs is expected to get even worse, as the Centre for Retail Research is predicting a further loss of 200 000 jobs in 2021.

The High Street businesses were already struggling before the COVID-19 hit, but almost a year of lockdowns and restrictions fuelled the decline to a greater extent and according to some analysts the shift towards online shopping has been accelerated by five to ten years, in this period.

* store closures or job losses occurring either as a regular aspect of business or a special cost-cutting programme. Retailers may close stores or warehouses, reorganise their management structure in stores or the head office or propose cuts in every department in order to reduce losses and cut costs, but where there is no recourse to administration or CVAs.

Image credits: Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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