High street job losses mount with Homebase next in line for closures

Analysis by New Economics Foundation says lost jobs are a £1.5bn cost to GDP

The DIY chain Homebase is expected to reveal the closure of up to 80 stores this week as job losses from Britain’s high streets total more than 30,000.

Homebase is battling for survival amid a slowdown in the housing market as well as rising costs and increasing pressure from online rivals and discounters such as B&M.

It wants to exit loss-making stores and agree to rent cuts ahead of a rent bill due in late September.

The closures will add to the mountain of job losses on Britain’s high streets. About 25,000 jobs have gone in the first seven months of 2018, according to analysis by the New Economics Foundation (NEF), with a further 8,300 jobs under threat at suppliers.

The figures, which include those at risk of imminent redundancy as well as workers who have already lost their jobs, adds up to £1.5bn in lost GDP, said NEF’s report.

At the weekend, seven Marks & Spencer clothing stores closed their doors for the last time as the high-street chain pushes ahead with a transformation plan.

M&S said in May it plans to close 100 stores by 2022.

Toys R Us, Poundworld and Maplin have collapsed, while New Look, Mothercare, Marks & Spencer and Carpetright have disclosed plans to close hundreds of stores as weak consumer confidence is compounded by the online shopping boom.

Alfie Stirling, head of economics at the NEF, said: “The shape of our economy is beginning to flex and buckle in response to powerful structural forces such as weakening household spending power and a shift in consumer behaviour towards online purchasing.”

Meanwhile, House of Fraser employees and pensioners are nervously awaiting more details about their future. The £90m rescue deal by Sports Direct, the sportswear chain controlled by Mike Ashley, will protect 16,000 jobs for the time being.


Patrick Collinson

The GuardianTramp

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