5,833 shops shut in 2018!

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Usdaw members on the march – thousands of jobs were lost in retail and banking last year

STORES, banks and other businesses are disappearing at the fastest rate since 2010 a PwC survey has revealed with 2,461 shop closures in 2018.

3,372 shops opened during 2018 and 5,833 closed, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) research compiled by the Local Data Company (LDC).

Lisa Hooker, the consumer markets leader at PwC, which has backed the survey since 2010, said: ‘The results are clear – 2018 was a turbulent year for retailers, with a number of high-profile store closures.

‘We saw an acceleration in footfall decline on the high street, with businesses continuing to see the impact of online shopping, increasing costs and subdued consumer spending.

‘The marked reduction in openings has accelerated the net closure trend. In categories as diverse as fashion and financial services, new entrants are able to gain share by launching online – enabled by technology and consumer adoption of mobile and e-commerce – rather than be saddled with the costs and risks of opening on the high street.’

Banks, fashion retailers and value retail groups underwent the biggest reduction in outlets as the collapse of Poundworld and fashion groups including East, Blue Inc and Jacques Vert was accompanied by mass store closures by New Look. Major banks, including HSBC, RBS and Lloyds, have closed hundreds of branches, leaving gaps on many high streets.

Banks and financial services were hardest hit in 2018 with 291 net closures.

Restaurants and pubs also suffered, with a net 506 outlets closing, reversing three consecutive years of growth since 2015. Carluccio’s, Jamie’s Italian and the burger chains Byron and Gourmet Burger Kitchen have all downsized amid a crisis in the casual dining sector.

PwC said market saturation, rising costs and a shift towards dining and drinking at home had not only prompted closures but also discouraged new openings.

However, there was growth in gyms, bookshops, ice-cream parlours, vape shops and cake shops as high streets move towards entertainment, experiences and indulgent treats rather than everyday shopping.

Meanwhile, shops in Glasgow are closing at a faster rate than new ones are being opened, creating uncertain future for the high street.

Almost two stores a week closed throughout 2018 while only 57 new stores opened, creating a net loss of 32 businesses.

Industry experts have said the sector is continuing to grapple with the growth of online shopping and are facing an uphill battle to survive.

It is hoped that the roll out of the Avenues project and addition of high-end private rent flats will increase the amount of footfall hitting Glasgow’s main shopping streets and encourage more businesses to open in the city to combat the downturn.

A number of high profile failures have rocked the once bustling Style Mile, made up of Argyle Street to Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street, in recent months.

Two branches of New Look closed and department store House of Fraser went into administration – causing a number of concessions to cease trading.

Units previously occupied by BHS, Dunnes stores and Greaves Sports remain empty following their closure.

They have now been joined by Liam Gallagher owned clothing store Pretty Green on Buchanan Street which has closed as a result of House of Fraser going under.

Two major fires on Sauchiehall Street last year have had a negative impact on trading and forced a number of shops to close or relocate including Holland and Barrett, Specsavers, BoConcept and Biggars Music.

However, the completion of the Sauchiehall Avenue in May is hoped to bring the street back to life.

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stuart Patrick, said: ‘A big challenge for retail is the relentless growth of online shopping, but the increasing use of click and collect shows that the majority of folk still enjoy coming to the city centre and having the whole experience of what it has to offer.’

  • Debenhams has been taken over by its lenders putting thousands of jobs at risk.

Debenhams has rejected Mike Ashley’s rescue deal worth £200m because it was conditional on him taking over as the chief executive.

The company has been taken over by its lenders in a pre-pack administration deal which would allow the shops to continue trading.

The move is expected to trigger store closures and jobs losses. It has also wiped out the shareholders including Mike Ashley’s 30% per cent stake which cost £150m to build up.

Usdaw National Officer Dave Gill says: ‘This is more devastating news for staff who were already living under the uncertainty of possible store closures since last year.

‘Once again, we urge the company to engage with Usdaw, the trade union for all Debenhams staff. It’s crucial that the staff and their voice should be heard.

‘We will continue to provide our members with the support and advice they need at this very difficult time.

‘Usdaw’s “Save Our Shops” campaign wants the government to take urgent action to address the challenges facing retail.

‘Three million people are employed directly in the retail sector and another 1.5 million jobs rely on the success of shops.

‘In recent years, hundreds and thousands of jobs have been lost in retail, with large and small retailers alike closing their doors. If this was any other industry the government would be stepping in to take some action.’

  • ASDA is attempting to bypass the union and impose changes to the contracts of their 60,000 strong work force with a small carrot and a whole lot of stick.

The changes will mean staff would no longer be paid for their meal breaks and would have to work bank holidays. In return their pay goes up to £9 an hour.

Gary Carter, GMB National Officer, said: ‘Absolutely nothing has been agreed with GMB and we will fight any imposition of these contracts on our members.

‘Since ASDA introduced its flexible contract two years ago, nearly 60% of employees have opted not to go on the new contract.

‘These contract changes will affect nearly 60,000 members of staff they cannot just be imposed from the top.

‘We expect ASDA to negotiate. If they want to roll out the new contract they must listen to employees and sit down with GMB to discuss beneficial improvements to terms and conditions which have the support of the workforce.

‘We know ASDA employees will be anxious and unsettled by the announcement, which comes shortly after CMA provisional findings.’