The first month of 2020 saw nearly 10,000 retail jobs lost in the UK as Brexit, online rivals and supermarkets took their toll on the high street, according to a new report.
The Centre for Retail Research (CRR) found that a total of 9,949 jobs have gone with several big name retailers have announcing store closures and redundancies this month, including Asda, Debenhams, HMV, Game and Topshop owner Arcadia.
With the collapse of Hawkin’s Bazaar and Beales last week, this is likely to increase by 1,200. Throughout 2019, according to the CCR, 143,100 jobs were lost.
January is always a tough month for retailers, while consumers recover from Christmas spending. For retailers which had a bad Christmas, January is even more challenging.
January’s retail job losses are in line with last year’s figures – according to the CRR, the sector lost 143,100 jobs during 2019.
The reasons for the decline lie in the continuing transformation of the industry along with other issues such as the uncertainty brought about by Brexit and the election.
Although there are many other factors which have caused this decline in the retail sector, such as high business rates and weak consumer confidence, the rise of online retail is central. These issues are compounded by competition from new, online start-ups which further detract from the sales of retail giants.
Can 5G transform the high street?
Meanwhile, a separate report has found that owners of retail property are hoping 5G wireless technology can save them from the struggles of the high street.
British executives hope 5G will allow retailers to use both augmented reality and virtual reality to enhance the customer experience, while improving stock efficiencies and eliminating queues at checkouts.
Around 66% see cashier-less retail as one of the top two beneficial innovations to come with the introduction of 5G, according to Altus Group’s annual Commercial Real Estate Innovation Report.
A further 77% said they expect the benefits of new tech in automated stock ordering to also help the struggling sector.
The report surveyed 400 major property owners and investors with more than £200m of assets under management.