What happened between January and June?

If you’re new to this hip scene, let us clue you in on one of our recurring topics – the general health of the UK high street and in-town retail spaces that often act as a wider barometer for local economic activity and affluence. 

The final figures are in for the first half of 2019 and despite recent positive monthly economic growth figures, they show a picture of overall decline.

Research from the Local Data Company concentrated on chain stores or brands with more than five or more branches and demonstrated that if nine new stores opened every day from January to June this year then 16 would close. This is a net decline of 1,234 which is greater than the 1,123 closures recorded in the same period last year and the highest since their research began in 2010. 

Fashion chains have been the hardest hit so far this year with a net decline of 118 units as the likes of New Look, LK Bennett and Greenwoods either restructured or were liquidated. Restaurants and estate agents also saw three figure reductions in capacity. 

The retail store crisis saw household retail names such as Karen Millen, Jack Wills, Bathstore and Debenhams entering administration this year with analysts predicting more to follow before 2020. 

Shopworkers Union USDAW have launched a Save our Shops petition and they’ve joined a consortium of UK retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer and Greggs to ask chancellor Sajid Javid to review high-street business rates as a matter of urgency. 

The signatories point out that while retailers only account for 5% of the British economy, they pay 10% of all business taxes and 25% of business rates. 

Green shoots ahead?

Dr Liliana Danila, economist with the British Retail Consortium outlines the stakes: “high streets are undergoing a fundamental change in response to changing shopping habits, new technologies and rising costs of doing business, so it is vital that the government supports the industry to make the necessary investment to adapt.

“The business rate system holds back investment, reduces productivity and increases regional disparities. The government must address the much-needed reforms to this broken tax system before more jobs are lost and stores are closed.”

Inflexible business rates may be an annoyance for many chain retailers but they can potentially be the final straw for many other small and medium enterprises all over the UK.

Every business has peaks and troughs but if you’re struggling with fundamental payments like this then it could be a sign of bigger difficulties.

Contact one of our expert advisors to arrange a free initial consultation where we can look at what immediate short-term options you have and hopefully what you can do in the medium and longer term to get your business back on a firmer footing for the rest of 2019 and beyond.