Retailers in the UK, which are already reeling under pressure due to increased competition from online stores, are heading towards a double whammy next year. According to data revealed by UK’s Centre for Retail Research (CRR), retailers are anticipating a gloomy 2019 heading into Britain’s departure from the EU.
CRR director Professor Joshua Bamfield said, “While parliament is obsessed with Brexit, business rates and low growth are killing the high street. We feel that 2019 is going to be a repeat of these dire figures unless or until the government takes action to provide a level playing field for both online retailers and the high street.”
The projection comes on the heels of a lackluster retail year when as many as 150,000 jobs have been lost in the sector, AFP reported. Almost 20,000 shops and restaurants have been closed in 2018 in the UK, hurt by rising business property taxation as well as cut-throat competition from online sellers such as Amazon (AMZN).
This biggest causality this year was Poundworld, a UK equivalent of dollar stores. The retail chain went bust in August after losing over 5,000 jobs. Meanwhile, British multinational retailer Debenhams was forced to shutter a third of its stores.
According to a recent survey, consumer confidence hit the lowest point in five years in December this year. The survey shows that higher wages are hardly lifting confidence about the future due to uncertainties surrounding Brexit and higher interest rates.
Main lending rate was earlier frozen at 0.75% by UK’s central bank last week.