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    More than 10,000 shops closed in 2023

    (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

    Almost 120,000 jobs were lost in the retail sector and more than 10,000 shops closed in 2023, according to recent data from the Centre for Retail Research.

    CRR said most of the year’s job losses were down to company restructures and cost-cutting exercises rather than business failures, however. Just over 82,000 of the 119,405 jobs were lost due to rationalisation rather than administration, it said.

    Store closures were down 38.8 per cent compared to 2022 – retail’s worst year for store closures since 2008 – while the number of redundancies in 2023 fell by 21.3 per cent. 2022 was the worst year for store closures since the financial crisis and collapse of Woolworths in 2008.

    However, Centre for Retail Research director Professor Joshua Bamfield noted, “This ‘improvement’ is probably best viewed as a trend that is ‘less bad’ rather than ‘good’ and doesn’t reflect any real strength in the sector.”

    “The cost-of-living crisis, inflation and increases in interest rates have led many consumers to tighten their belts, reducing retail spend.

    “Retailers themselves have suffered increasing energy and occupancy costs, staff shortages and falling demand that have made rebuilding profits after extensive store closures during the pandemic exceptionally difficult,” reports quoted Bamfield as saying.

    From April, retailers will face a £309 million increase in annual business rates, according to estimates from real estate analysts at Altus Group, which could have an impact on their ability to remain open and cover costs.

    Furthermore, businesses face an almost 10 per cent increase in the national living wage which takes effect in April. A number of retailers have already called the rise, to £11.44 an hour, unsustainable.

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