Nearly 120,000 UK retail jobs lost in 2023

Almost 120,000 people working in UK retail saw their job cut in 2023, according to figures from the Centre for Retail Research.

The job losses came as over 10,000 stores closed their doors permanently across the year.

The research found that 61 retailers went into administration in the UK over the 12-month period, impacting almost 21,000 jobs.

Hardware chain Wilko was one of several high-profile retailers that collapsed last year, closing all of its 408 outlets. According to the Centre for Retail Research, this was the biggest retail failure in terms of staff and store numbers since Woolworths shut down in 2008.

Clothing store Cath Kidston also went into administration in late March last year by its private-equity owners Hilco Capital, which only bought the company in 2022.

The retailer first went bust in 2020 with 60 UK stores, most of which were closed.

The Centre for Retail Research said that while Scottish apparel chain M&Co was sold to AK Retail Holdings after falling into administration towards the end of 2022, only its IP and brand were included in the purchase, leaving its 170 stores and 1,910 "without an obvious future".

Stationary and gift store Paperchase also collapsed at the beginning of last year, with its stores all set to close. However, Tesco bought out the Paperchase brand and logo following a pre-pack administration.

“The cost-of-living crisis, inflation and increases in interest rates have led many consumers to tighten their belts, reducing retail spend," said Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the centre for retail research. "Retailers themselves have suffered increasing energy and occupancy costs, staff shortages and falling demand that have made rebuilding profits after extensive store closures during the pandemic exceptionally difficult.”

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