One in eight shops never reopened after first lockdown

One in eight shops never reopened after first lockdown with over 5,500 stores still closed as tourists and office workers stay home

  • At least 5,552 shops are shut after the first lockdown and face uncertain futures
  • Store closures mean nearly 900 acres of shopping space is new going unused
  • Shopper footfall in London is ‘dead,’ says chairman of Fenwick department store
  • Comes as bosses of major retailers expect to cut more jobs over next six months

One in eight shops have never reopened since the first lockdown began with 5,500 still closed as tourists and office workers stay home.

Analysis of retailers with more than five stores nationwide found out of 43,766 shops, 5,552 (12 per cent) have kept their doors shut since March,  leaving nearly 900 acres of shopping space unused for eight months.

Around 2,000 shops closed permanently, while 36,209 managed to reopen after the first lockdown.

The study by PWC and the Local Data Company found shops in high streets and city centres have been hit hardest, as the chairman of Fenwick department stores declared footfall in London ‘dead’.  

Last week alone, more than 9,500 High Street jobs were put at risk, with John Lewis announcing another 1,500 job cuts on top of the 1,300 it was already making.

High streets and town centres, including Worthing’s, pictured, have been hit hardest by lockdown since March, as more than 5,500 shops have remained closed over the past eight months

Lloyds Bank is to make 1,070 more staff redundant as well as the 865 it had previously announced.

Sainsbury’s confirmed it will cut 3,500 jobs across its Argos stores and its meat, fish and deli counters. 

Meanwhile Clarks shoes put the jobs of all 4,000 of its store staff on notice as part of its fight for survival.

With England living under a second lockdown until December 2, ministers have been warned the retail industry faces losing £8billion as it loses out on vital Christmas sales. 

Sainsbury’s announced it was cutting 3,500 jobs last week, as John Lewis, Clarks and Lloyds Bank all declared potential job losses 

Zelf Hussain, retail restructuring partner at PWC, told The Times: ‘Businesses including pubs and bars, Italian restaurants, dentists, cinemas, social clubs and entertainment venues are particularly exposed to remaining mothballed, while hair and beauty, Asian restaurants, estate agents, mobile phone shops and off licences, DIY shops and vaping stores are among those businesses that bounced back quickest and reopened at a higher rate.’ 

Tom Ironside, director of policy, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘[The Government] have decided that some sorts of retailers, supermarkets and pharmacies will be able to trade, and that’s right, but we think some of the restrictions are really quite arbitrary. 

‘The timing of this lockdown is clearly extremely difficult for the retail industry. This is the golden quarter for many retailers, and to lose a month of sales during this period is extremely difficult. 

‘We estimate that for those classified as non-essential retail forced to close, they’ll be losing £2billion pounds a week during this new lockdown.’

A survey of bosses at Britain’s top retailers has found nearly half expect to cut more jobs in the next six months, with a third planning to shut stores.

A poll of 40 chairmen who together employ two million people found that 46 per cent would be cutting jobs.

Footfall in London is ‘dead,’ says Fenwick department stores’ chairman Steve Barber, as tourists stay out of the Capital and office workers remain at home

Steve Barber, chairman of Fenwick department stores, said: ‘Revenues have been considerably lower than last year. Footfall in London is dead.’

It comes as Marks and Spencer reported its first loss in its 94-year history as a listed company.

M&S, which has already cut 8,000 staff since March, has seen its large stores suffer while many of its smaller food halls are located in now-empty train stations and airports.

Retail is not the only sector affected by Covid-related job losses. Last week Rolls-Royce announced it was making 1,400 redundancies in the UK, while British Airways has laid off 8,200 workers.

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