Almost 15,000 UK retail jobs have already been cut since January in a “brutal start to the year” for the high street.
A total of 14,874 retail job losses have been announced by companies so far, according to an analysis by the Center for Retail Research (CRR).
National retailers including stationery brand Paperchase, clothing chain M&Co and Tile Giant have collapsed in recent weeks, while discount retailer Wilko, clothing retailer New Look and supermarkets Tesco and Asda have also announced job cuts work.
Large retail chains, which have 10 or more stores, are among those cutting jobs on the UK’s high street, as well as in key shopping destinations, the survey found.
Most of the job losses – a total of 11,689 – are at major retailers including Tesco and Asda, which are carrying out cost-cutting and restructuring programmes.
Meanwhile, another 3,185 jobs have been lost at major retailers that have collapsed and gone into insolvency proceedings.
Embattled stationery retailer Paperchase fell into administration in January after being hit by rising costs and disappointing sales.
The brand and its intellectual property was bought by Tesco, but the deal did not include the takeover of Paperchase’s 106 stores across the UK and Ireland, resulting in the immediate loss of 250 jobs, with an uncertain future for the remaining 500 people .
Many of the retailers have already collapsed in recent years, according to Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the CRR.
“The streamlining process will continue apace as retailers continue to reduce their cost base,” he said. “We are unlikely to see any respite in job losses in 2023 after a brutal start to the year.”
Retail job losses have been rising for several years, even before the extended closures following repeated Covid lockdowns.
Just under 3 million people were employed in retail in the second quarter of 2022, according to research by industry body the British Retail Consortium, which was 63,000 lower than last year.
A revaluation of business rates, one of the biggest operating costs for retailers, takes place from April 1 and looks likely to reduce the pricing used to set bills.
Business rate relief means new accounts will be cut by 75% for the tax year from April 2023 to the end of March 2024, up to a cash cap of £110,000 per business, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced on his fall statement.
The Treasury said the retail sector “is poised to see its overall bills fall by 20%” as a result.
However, property consultant Altus Group warns that most multi-store retailers will only benefit from the discount in a few of their branches because of the cap.
“While the adjustments brought about by the revaluation are welcome, 10% overall is not far enough given the state of the market on the valuation date which is likely to lead to a tsunami of appeals,” said Alex Probyn, global head of property tax property in the Altus Group.