Sunday 16 September 2018 / 8:43 AM Business / Rebecca Long Bailey

Urgent action needed to save ‘dying’ high streets as new Labour analysis reveals 100,000 retail jobs have been lost in 3 years

Urgent action needed to save ‘dying’ high streets as new Labour analysis reveals 100,000 retail jobs have been lost in 3 years

Labour is calling on the government to save Britain’s ‘dying’ high streets as new figures released by the party reveal 100,000 retail jobs have been lost in 3 years.

New analysis by Labour of ONS figures released on Tuesday has revealed that a staggering 100,000 retail jobs have been lost in stores across Britain since 2015, as real wages have stagnated and the Government’s botched handling of the Brexit negotiations has hit consumer and business confidence.

Along with reform to the business rates system to ease the burden on traditional high streets and town centres, Rebecca Long Bailey, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, has called on the Government to consider:

  •       Establishing a register of landlords of empty shops in each local authority, to make it easier to bring boarded up shops back into use 
  • Launching an inquiry into excessive car parking charges levied by private firms, to examine the benefits of promoting free parking in city centres

2018 has seen numerous major high street brands fall into administration or announce store closures, including House of Fraser, Marks and Spencer, Mothercare and New Look. Research by the British Retail Consortium has revealed nearly a fifth of British retailers are planning to cut the number of people they employ in the next three months.

A report by PwC and the Local Data Company found that last year 4,000 High Street shops opened and 5,800 closed, a net loss of 1,800. Currently 11.35% of shops are empty, and the Local Data Company has found that 52% of former BHS stores still lie empty 2 years after the final closure.

Research by XLN last year found nine in ten people would visit high streets more often if free parking was offered. A third of respondents picked expensive parking and the lack of free parking as their biggest high street frustrations.

The British Retail Consortium has reported that 94 per cent of people surveyed say they miss the community feel of their high street.

Rebecca Long Bailey MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, said:

“Our high streets are dying but the Government isn’t doing anything about it.

“Losing giants like House of Fraser, Marks and Spencer and New Look from town centres across the country is alarming.

“Our communities, hundreds of thousands of jobs, and our economy, both local and national, depend on thriving high streets. The Tories need to take action fast, before we become a nation of ghost towns.”