By Altus Group | February 18, 2021

A tsunami of evictions and retail insolvencies, beyond anything which we’ve seen during the last 25 years, is looming experts have today warned with 850 retail jobs being lost every working day.

Analysis from The Centre for Retail Research showing administrations by large multiple retailers, those with 10 or more stores, reveals 27,096 jobs have been shed and 1,023 stores earmarked for closure since the start of the year.

“These losses will be the ‘tip of the iceberg’” warned Professor Joshua Bamfield at the CRR referring to the moratorium on evictions and business rates holiday that are both due to come to an end next month in England.

Businesses affected by the pandemic are currently protected from eviction and winding up, as result of non-payment of rent, until 31st March. But further quarterly rent bills fall due for payment just 4 working days before on 25th March increasing the pressure on retailers even further.

A ‘final’ extension to measures to counter against the threat of eviction were announced in December giving landlords and tenants 3 months to come to an agreement over rent arrears but the national lockdown, with the stay at home message, subsequently shut up to 401,690 non-essential shops according to the real estate adviser, Altus Group.

Whilst the Government are reportedly now considering a further extension, Professor Bamfield says “this will simply kick the can down the road” adding “Government loans enabling retailers to turn unpaid rents accumulated during the crisis into fixed-term repayable loans could be the answer as part of a wider basket of support.”

The Chancellor is coming under immense pressure from retailers to follow the lead of the devolved administration in Scotland by extending the business rates holiday in England to provide further help towards overall occupational costs.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government today said they expect Council income from business rates in England to rise to £24.84 billion during 2021/22 up from £14.95 billion collected during 2020/21 with the cost of the business rates holiday being revised up to £11.06 billion with no provision for an extension within their forecasts.

Robert Hayton, U.K. President of Property Tax at Altus Group, said “lockdown restrictions and changing consumer habits mean our high streets are far from capable of bearing the (rates) burden right now” but stressed the extension “must be discerning and targeted to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.”

Howdens Joinery were the first major retailer to agree to return the business rates holiday relief at the beginning of November last year with £2.2 billion having now been pledged to be repaid by 14 major retailers, including the Big 4 supermarkets, according to Altus Group.

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