Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Austerity Engulfs the High Street

THE GUARDIAN: Thorntons joins growing list of casualties in a week of retail misery that could cost 10,000 jobs

More than 10,000 retail jobs face the axe as the British high street faces one of its most painful bouts of contraction since the second world war amid the biggest squeeze on household budgets for decades.

As the government's austerity measures take hold, experts warned that the number of retailers going bust would continue to rise this year with a number of household names facing insolvency.

The confectioner Thorntons emerged as the latest high street casualty when it said on Tuesday it would close up to 180 stores, putting more than 1,000 jobs at risk. The flooring chain Carpetright followed suit, saying 50 stores could close as consumers shun purchases amid fuel and food price inflation and rising job insecurity, especially in the public sector.

Over the last week, a clutch of high street names announced they were in trouble. Habitat was among several to call in the administrators, putting 750 jobs on the line. The electronics retailer Comet is also shutting stores.

The department store chain TJ Hughes said it was planning to appoint an administrator after a slump in sales, raising a question mark over the future of 4,000 employees who work at its 58 stores in England and Wales.

The retail carnage will intensify the debate around the coalition's spending cuts and, on Thursday, 750,000 teachers and civil servants hold a one-day strike to protest at reforms to pay and pensions which they claim will leave them worse off despite having to pay more to into their retirement plans. In parliament, Labour is lobbying for a cut in VAT payments to bring relief to consumers and cushion shops from spiralling rent bills. » | Richard Wachman | Tuesday, June 28, 2011

THE GUARDIAN: High street slump: The 'dismal science' of a rebalancing economy: Even prosperous towns are tightening their belts – and that means disaster for retailers » | Michael White in Crawley | Tuesday, June 28, 2011