New figures reveal almost 190,000 jobs have been lost since the onslaught of Covid-19 last year. Data released by the Centre for Retail Research reveals that 188,685 retails jobs have been lost since the start of the first coronavirus lockdown on March 23, 2020 until March 31, 2021. The figures come less than two weeks before non-essential shops reopen their doors in England. The worst-hit high street saw permanent closures of thousands of stores.
The data also revealed that 83,725 jobs lost in the period were due to administrations. This includes high-end collapses by Debenhams and Sir Philip Green's Arcadia Group. Real estate adviser Altus Group has announced that up to 401,690 shops are currently shut down around the country and could reopen in the next stage of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown.
Retailers continue to raise concerns that the high street will still be very challenging for the stores despite the easing of restrictions. UK president of property tax at Altus, Robert Hayton has warned that the current business rates regime could bring further devastation. He was quoted by The Independent as saying, “Come 1 July, large retailers in England will effectively be returned to full business rates liabilities, calculated by reference to rents being paid six years ago, bearing no resemblance to the here and now, with the fundamental right of appeal to seek valuation adjustments being retrospectively removed.” A government spokesperson was quoted as saying, “We have continued to support the retail sector throughout the pandemic, including our new £5bn Restart Grant scheme, extending the furlough scheme and the VAT cut, providing 750,000 businesses in retail and other sectors with business rates relief and a £350bn package to support jobs and livelihoods.”
They added, “As we build back better from coronavirus we want to see our high streets thrive. We have put in place an accelerated £1bn Future High Streets Fund, a £4.8bn Levelling Up Fund and are working with local leaders through the High Street Taskforce, all to support town centres, high street regeneration and drive growth across the UK.”