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High street job losses ‘cost British economy £1.5bn’

New research has found that high street job losses have cost the British economy £1.5bn, as the number of lost jobs exceeds 30,000.

Figures from the New Economics Foundation (NEF) include those facing imminent redundancy alongside those who have already lost their jobs, adding up to £1.5bn in lost GDP.

NEF said the findings “do not mean that GDP is necessarily weaker than it would otherwise have been, since new jobs and output may have been created elsewhere in retail or in the broader economy”. The findings are however said by the NEF to be illustrative of a shift in economic importance away from the high street during 2018 so far.

Just this month Homebase announced the closure of 80 stores which is expected to put more than 1,000 jobs at risk. In May, M&S announced it was to shutter over 100 stores and refused to rule out any further closures or job losses before cutting 351 management roles.

Alfie Stirling, head of economics at the NEF, said: “The shape of our economy is beginning to flex and buckle in response to powerful structural forces such as weakening household spending power and a shift in consumer behaviour towards online purchasing. But moments like these also represent an opportunity for policymakers, businesses and communities to proactively choose a new direction going forwards.

“The high street has always provided space for tremendous economic and social value in the UK. But if these broad benefits are to be preserved, the future may need to be reimagined with less dependency on short-term material consumption.”

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