A coalition of retailers has warned the Treasury that 10,000 jobs could be wiped out ‘overnight’ unless urgent action is taken to avert a deepening crisis.
Shops are still recovering from three months of store closures with trade remaining significantly down on last year as shoppers and office workers avoid town centres.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak handed high street firms a £10 billion business rates holiday in March.
It comes as economists warn that jobless figures could soar above three million this winter, eclipsing record highs in the early 1980s [File photo]
But he has been told by about 25 chains that reinstating business rates in April would force them to close 800 shops, triggering the jobs cull. The total is likely to soar once other retailers add their projections.
Bosses say a decision on any aid package must come soon or firms will assume the worst and close stores and cancel stock orders.
It comes as economists warn that jobless figures could soar above three million this winter, eclipsing record highs in the early 1980s.
The announcement that household gatherings will be capped at six has raised fears that Christmas celebrations will be limited – further dampening trade in what many retailers call the ‘golden quarter’.
Some groups, such as New Look, have called in restructuring teams. The 450-store fashion retailer’s future is hanging in the balance. Stores including Boots and Debenhams are said to have ‘bombarded’ the Treasury with warnings.
‘Things have turned pretty ugly,’ said one chairman. ‘It’s difficult to see how anyone can invest in this environment. It’s chaos. Anything that provides some certainty would help – but it needs to be done fast.’
Stores including Boots and Debenhams are said to have ‘bombarded’ the Treasury with warnings