Grim year for retail predicted

15 March, 2021

The high street is facing predictions that 18% of all stores will be facing closures this year. The Centre for Retail Research forecasted these numbers which equate to an average of 358 per week and up to 200,000 job losses.

Last year more than 17,500 chain stores and other venues closed in Great Britain, an average of 48 closures per day. These figures include hospitality and leisure venues but not independent retailers. The Local Data Company, who are responsible for tracking vacancy rates in nearly 3,500 high streets, shopping centres and retail parks recorded 17,532 closures in 2020. They also reported that in the same period 7,665 stores were opened - this results in a net loss of 9,877 outlets which is the worst annual decline their researchers have seen in more than a decade.

This year the net closures is predicted to be even higher as the economy and consumers continue to feel the pinch of the pandemic.

Chocolate maker Thorntons announced that none of its 61 shops will reopen after the national lockdown is lifted, this will put more than 600 jobs at risk. Adam Goddard, the retail director for Thorntons stated:

"The obstacles we have faced and will continue to face on the High Street are too severe. Despite our best efforts we have taken the difficult decision to permanently close our retail store estate."

Adam Goddard, Retail Director, Thorntons Chocolate

In a further blow to chains on the high street John Lewis have announced that they do not expect all of their department stores to reopen once restrictions are eased. With eight stores already announced as closing in 2020 it has been reported that the chain is now considering closing up to eight more stores in order to cut costs and preserve the business.

Marks & Spencers are going to start selling clothing lines from rival brands online as part of it's transformation programme after reporting it's first loss in 94 years last year. A programme that has so far resulted in 7,000 jobs being cut across stores and management.

Even British cult favourite Greggs have felt the pinch of the last twelve months, reporting their first loss in 36 years after sales fell by a third amid lockdown measures. However despite a pre-tax loss of £13.7 million they are planning to open around 100 nett new shops in 2021 adding to its 2,078 strong estate.

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