Almost 650,000 UK retail jobs lost since 2017

Online retailing grew the fastest in the UK, when compared to other countries and sales on London’s Oxford Street fell from the usual £10bn per annum to £2bn in 2020

Almost 650,000 jobs have been lost in the UK’s retail sector over the past five years, according to new figures from a study conducted by the Centre for Retail Research.

The study found that 645,204 retail jobs have been lost and 72,570 shops were closed across the whole country in the last five years. 

This included 105,727 jobs last year as the furlough scheme kept losses below previous years. The study also says that “employees could no longer ‘pop in’ to nearby shops or buy goods on their way to or from work”, as they transitioned to working from home. The total sales on London’s Oxford Street reportedly fell from the usual £10bn per annum to £2bn in 2020. 

The Centre for Retail Research also details how “retailing in most of the Western world has been in crisis for more than 10 years”, following the rapid expansion of shops in the 2000s that increased rent in city centres. This led to “changes in consumer behaviour”; reportedly, people began to shop around and value became part of the purpose of consumption. 

The growth in online retailing has been reportedly the fastest in the UK than any other country. However, this growth in the online market share damaged physical shops, as they lost 12.6% of their market between 2006-2019. 

In the last three years more physical shops began online trading in a bid to increase their sales. The CRR used John Lewis and Partners as an example, saying that “by 2021 more than one-half of their business is done online”.

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