Tens of thousands of jobs have been lost on Britain’s high streets during the first half of this year.
According to the Press Association, some 50,000 people have been made redundant or have had their jobs threatened, most of them in the big name chains.
Retailers have struggled through the first six months of the year, with falling consumer confidence, soaring business rates and Brexit’s effect on inflation.
In June alone, more than 6,000 jobs were put at risk at House of Fraser and 5,100 threatened when Poundworld went into administration.
Toys R Us and Maplin collapsed earlier in the year and hundreds of jobs have been axed from Prezzo, Byron and Jamie’s Italian.
The Trades Union Congress said the government needed to “up its game”.
General secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Retail depends on customers having money in their pockets. One reason why some shops are struggling is because wage growth has been very weak.
“Government needs to up its game, boost the economy and invest in great jobs that people can live on.”
Image: House of Fraser has fallen victims to challenging trading conditions
Also, the average business rates bill for a department store in England and Wales this year were up 26.6% to £717,952 following last year’s government revaluation, according to Altus Group.
Robert Hayton, head of UK business rates at Altus, said: “Business rates are rarely the sole driver for insolvencies but certainly a contributory factor, with bills having risen by more than a fifth through inflation during the seven years before last year’s revaluation.
“Add that to the lethal cocktail of other increased operating costs for the national living wage and apprenticeship levy and it creates the perfect storm for 2018 being the year of the CVA.”
Paddy Lillis, general secretary of the shop workers’ union USDAW, said: “We are very concerned about the impact of Brexit increasing prices at the same time as incomes being squeezed, customers changing their shopping habits and new technology being introduced.”
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Job losses have also hit other industries – BT is axing 13,000 jobs to cut costs, with two thirds of jobs going from the UK.
Carillion collapsed, affecting more than 2,375 jobs, with more losses expected; and British Gas owner Centrica will cut 4,000 jobs over the next three years.