175,000 UK high street jobs may go and 23,000 stores could close in 2019

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Another 175,000 jobs are set to be lost from the UK high street this year, while the value of retail property will tumble amid challenges facing the sector, new research shows.

More than 23,000 shops are expected to close in 2019, according to research by real estate adviser Altus Group.

The numbers mark a significant increase on 2018, when a series of company failures and store closure programmes claimed nearly 20,000 stores and 150,000 jobs.

It comes as retail footfall took a hit over the festive season with another decline year on year.

Meanwhile, the woes of the industry are set to hit the value of retail property, which is expected to decline by 15.9% as shoppers are tempted away from the high street by online alternatives.

Altus Group’s annual Commercial Real Estate Innovation Report found that 62% of major UK property owners and investors say Amazon and other online players have disrupted the retail property market.

A further 78% said the trend towards “experiential” retailing is now impacting their investment decisions, as customers seek out experience-led shopping.

Altus Group managing director Guillaume Fiastre said retail property value had dropped significantly due to headwinds facing the sector, but that “survivors” would emerge from the current transformation.

“Retail of the future will use bricks-and-mortar spaces in a very different way mixed in with leisure and lifestyle residential spaces, for example.

“The most successful retailers – the survivors – are learning to draw in their customers with the promise of a personalised experience. Technology makes that all possible, but it still needs a strong human element.”

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Last year saw major retailers including Maplin, Toys R Us and House of Fraser go into administration. Many other shopping chains slashed their store estates in response to reduced footfall on the high street.

Retailers planning to close stores this year include Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and House of Fraser.

It has been reported that Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley, who saved department store chain House of Fraser from collapse, is in talks to buy struggling entertainment retailer HMV.

In the five-week period between November 25 and December 29, there was a 2.6% drop in total retail footfall on a year before, marking the 13th consecutive month of annual decline following a 3.2% decrease recorded in November.

However, some areas such as Worcester said they had a bumper Christmas period when it comes to visitors thanks to new initiatives to bring in people to the area. It enjoyed a rise of 0.3% compared to last year, while cities across the country saw visitor numbers drop by -3.2% on average.

Visitors number peaked at nearly 2.4m during December. It follows Worcester BID’s popular ‘Christmas in Worcester’ campaign, delivered in conjunction with partners Crowngate Shopping Centre, Cathedral Square and Worcester City Council.

Phoebe Dawson, Chief Executive of Worcester BID, said: “It’s undeniably a challenging time for businesses and consumers alike, but everyone is pulling together to come up with creative ways to ensure Worcester is an attractive place to visit and shop, and Worcester BID is delighted to support our hardworking traders.