50,000 retail jobs lost in the first half of 2018

Monday, July 2, 2018

A colossal 50,000 jobs have been axed in the first half of the year as retail workers bore the brunt of hundreds of store closures.

Numbers crunched by the Press Association show that approximately 50,000 staff have been made redundant or seen their role put under threat, with the bulk of them working for well-known high street chains.

In the past few weeks alone, House of Fraser has put more than 6,000 jobs at risk with a radical store closure plan, while Poundworld has plunged into administration, endangering a further 5,100.

Read more: House Of Fraser to shut 31 stores

It adds to Toys R Us and Maplin, which collapsed earlier this year, while the likes of Prezzo, Byron and Jamie's Italian have shut restaurants and culled hundreds of jobs.

Retailers have been hammered by Brexit-fuelled inflation, soaring business rates and falling consumer confidence.

Responding to the bombshell figures, the TUC called on the Government to "up its game" to stem the tide.

The union organisation's general secretary, Frances O'Grady, said: "Retail depends on customers having money in their pockets. One reason why some shops are struggling is because wage growth has been very weak.

"Government needs to up its game, boost the economy and invest in great jobs that people can live on."

Paddy Lillis, general secretary of the shop workers' union USDAW, said the scale of store closures was "alarming".

Read more: UK high street recorded worst May performance in 12 years

He added: "We are very concerned about the impact of Brexit increasing prices at the same time as incomes being squeezed, customers changing their shopping habits and new technology being introduced."

Experts said 2018 will go down in history as the "year of the Company Voluntary Arrangement" - an insolvency procedure used to push through several store closure programmes this year.

Soaring business rates have been flagged as a major contributor to retail failures.

Robert Hayton, head of UK business rates at Altus Group, said: "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.”