UK retailers have slashed almost 15,000 jobs since the start of 2023 after a raft of collapses and restructurings on the high street, according to new figures.
Experts have warned that “the brutal start of the year” could continue as cost pressures and weaker customer spending power take their toll.
The Centre for Retail Research said that 14,874 jobs have been cut or announced since the start of the year.
The total reflects cuts by large multiple retailers, which have 10 or more UK stores. It means overall industry job losses could be even higher once under-pressure independents are included.
This included the likes of Paperchase and M&Co, which both tumbled into administration in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, a further 11,689 jobs are being shed by large retailers through “rationalisation” as part of cost-cutting programmes.
These cuts include reductions by Tesco, Asda, Wilko and New Look since the start of last month.
Professor Joshua Bamfield, at the Centre for Retail Research, said: “The process of rationalisation will continue at pace as retailers continue to reduce their cost base.
“We are unlikely to see any respite in job losses in 2023 after a brutal start to the year.”
Retailers have suffered as a result of pressure on consumer budgets, rises in their own energy bills and costly property taxes.
Business rates, the property tax facing high street firms and one of their largest costs, will be reset from April 1 – a national revaluation which is set to benefit many firms.
The Treasury has said the retail sector will “see its overall bills paid fall by 20%” as firms also receive a 75% discount up to a cap of £110,000.
However, Alex Probyn, global president of property tax at real estate adviser Altus Group, said: “The reality is most multiple retailers will only benefit from the discount on a handful of their stores given the cap.”
He added: “Whilst the adjustments brought about by the revaluation are welcome, 10% overall just does not go far enough given the state of the market on the valuation date which is likely to lead to a tsunami of appeals.”