Little Christmas cheer for UK high-street retailers as 150,000 jobs cut

Shoppers cross the road on Oxford Street in London. As many as 20,000 shops and restaurants closed in the UK this year, a study shows. (Reuters)
Updated 25 December 2018

Little Christmas cheer for UK high-street retailers as 150,000 jobs cut

  • Some 148,132 jobs were axed as 20,000 shops and restaurants closed
  • And more gloom is forecast next year as retailers continue to struggle in anticipation of Brexit

LONDON: Troubled UK high-street retailers shed almost 150,000 jobs this year, hit by high business property taxation, flagging growth and rising online sales, a study showed Monday.
Some 148,132 jobs were axed as 20,000 shops and restaurants closed, according to Britain’s Press Association news agency which published data from the Center for Retail Research (CRR).
And more gloom is forecast next year as retailers continue to struggle in anticipation of Britain’s departure from the EU.
“While Parliament is obsessed with Brexit, business rates and low growth are killing the high street,” said Professor Joshua Bamfield, who is director of the CRR consultancy. “We feel that 2019 is going to be a repeat of these dire figures unless or until the government takes action to provide a level playing field for both online retailers and the high street.”

-------
BACKGROUND
The Bank of England last week froze its main lending rate at 0.75 percent faced with “intensified Brexit uncertainties.” The central bank had in August voted unanimously to raise the rate by a quarter-point to 0.75 percent amid Brexit-fueled UK inflation. That was only the second hike since the global financial crisis a decade ago and was in response to above-target UK annual inflation. Rising interest rates leave borrowers with less disposable income to spend on the high street.

-------


This year, a string of major British retailers fell victim to fierce online competition, rising business taxes and stretched household budgets — all coming amid Brexit uncertainty.
One major casualty, British budget chain Poundworld, collapsed earlier this year with the loss of some 5,100 jobs.
Department store chain Debenhams, meanwhile, decided to shut about one third of its shops. That came after its UK rival, House of Fraser, was rescued from collapse having been bought by retailer Sports Direct.
Property specialist Altus Group argues that rising business rates — a taxation which is levied on non-domestic property use — have piled on pressure. Despite the gloom, official data showed last week that retail sales rebounded in November as shoppers bagged Black Friday bargains.
Sales jumped 1.4 percent compared with October, the Office for National Statistics calculated, with non-food items helped by heavy price discounts.
But the outlook for consumers is weak. Consumer confidence dived to a five-year low in December, according to a GfK survey published last Friday.
“Consumer surveys show that people are not feeling confident about the future despite an increase in wages,” said Stephen Beer, chief investment officer at Epworth Investment Management.
“This is partly due to interest rates going up and the mood music from the Bank of England.”


Dubai launches economic program for post COVID-19 recovery 

Updated 05 August 2020

Dubai launches economic program for post COVID-19 recovery 

  • “The Great Economic Reset Programme” is part of a “COVID Exit initiative” to help the recovery and reshaping of the economy
  • The economic program will feature analyses of current and future policies

DUBAI: Dubai launched an economic program as part of its efforts to reshape the emirate’s economy for a “sustainable” and “resilient” future post the coronavirus pandemic, the government said. 
The Dubai government partnered with the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG) to launch “The Great Economic Reset Programme” as part of a “COVID Exit initiative” to help the recovery and reshaping of the economy, state news agency WAM reported on Tuesday. 
The economic program will feature analyses of current and future policies, research and extensive stakeholder consultation to set the direction and tone of future economic policies, regulations and initiatives.
The government plans to use local and international experts for economies and societies to create growth strategies for the Dubai economy.
The MBRSG held a “Virtual Policy Council,” with global experts and thought leaders to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on the economy and potential policy responses and initiatives. 
Chief economists, senior practitioners and researchers from leading global institutions including the World Bank, joined experts from Dubai Economy and the MBRSG at the first roundtable.
“I believe the triple helix collaboration between public, private and academia stakeholders have always produced the best solutions in the past. In the highly uncertain environment now, extensive collaboration and cooperation between all stakeholders are vital to our future prosperity. The Virtual Policy Council will propose the best approaches Dubai and the UAE can adopt to address the risks and opportunities in the next normal economy,” said Mohammed Shael Al-Saadi, CEO of the Corporate Strategic Affairs sector in Dubai Economy.
“This Virtual Policy Council is a key component of the whole process where global experts and thinkers share their views on the future economy. In this new era, the role of governments in enabling the new economic actors is becoming increasingly central, and Dubai is well-positioned to lead the way with innovative models of growth post COVID19,” said Professor Raed Awamleh, Dean of MBRSG.
The roundtable also discussed the impact of the pandemic on international trade, foreign investment and tourism, as well as the rise of digital globalization.