The Centre for Retail Research (CRR) has published its findings that a total of 9,949 retail jobs were lost since the start of the year, predicting a further 1,200 could go as both Beales and Hawkin’s Bazaar collapse into administration.
January is a notoriously tough month for retailers, facing caution from customers following the inevitable overspending that often comes with the Christmas period as well as the fast-approaching deadline for quarterly rent at the end of the month.
A number of big brands, including ASDA, Card Factory (LON:CARD) and Mothercare (LON:MTC), have faced a slump in sales in the last year, with retailers increasingly closing stores and cutting jobs as the UK market contracts in response to Brexit wariness.
Last week, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) revealed that nearly 60,000 jobs in the retail sector were lost in 2019. The industry analyst blamed the uncertainty fostered by the imminent Brexit deadline and the December general election, but also acknowledged the continuing trend towards online shopping.
With UK retail employing around 3 million people, the CRR’s findings indicate as many as 1 in 300 jobs have been lost so far in 2020.
Despite the recent slump, according to Altus Group’s annual Commercial Real Estate Innovation Report, 77% of top British executives expect the introduction of 5G to help boost and streamline the high street. The hope is that augmented reality will help to enrich the customer experience while also cutting back on checkout queues.
The report acknowledges the risk that further jobs could be lost in the short-term, but Altus Group executive director, Scott Morey, emphasises the possibility of more meaningful jobs opening up in the future.
“5G presents a great opportunity for retailers to further improve the underlying performance of their physical stores,” Morey explained, “by transforming the customer experience and shifting the role of their store personnel towards higher value tasks. Shoppers fundamentally rely on stores during various stages of their shopping journey and 5G has the potential to further improve that interaction.”
However, it has yet to be seen if the sector will be able to offset 2019’s legacy as the worst year for retail sales on record. The high street will also have to reconcile the threat from online retailers and the potential for more efficient delivery and postage infrastructure moving forwards.
Credit: Written by Freelance Writer, Bronte R. Carvalho