Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 4 April 2018

Retail crunch: even giants not immune as 21,000 jobs disappear

Toys R Us, photo Raysonho@Open Grid Scheduler/Grid Engine/CC

Toys R Us, photo [email protected] Grid Scheduler/Grid Engine/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Iain Dalton, vice-chair, Usdaw Leeds private trades branch (personal capacity)

Almost every week it seems another retail chain is closing stores. 21,000 retail jobs have gone in the first three months of the year according to the Press Association.

Toys R Us went into liquidation at the end of February, with electronics store Maplin going into administration just hours later. In March, Italian restaurant Prezzo announced it was closing a third of its locations. Fashion retailer New Look has announced closures of 60 locations, just over a tenth of its stores.

The growth of online shopping is a factor, with 77% of people buying at least one item online in 2017 according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). But only around 18% of sales in 2018 are expected to come via the internet, so 'bricks and mortar' stores still remain dominant.

New Look's recovery plan also includes rent reductions and new lease terms on a further 393 locations, the vast majority of its shops. This is a result of high commercial rental prices, much like those in the private housing sector.

Around a decade ago, companies such as Boots, Tesco and others sold their properties to asset management companies who leased stores back to them, many of them on 'upwards-only' rent review terms.

This has led to an overheating of the retail property market, especially in central London, combined with companies increasingly stuck with large, warehouse-type shops rented in better times.

This is compounded by the delayed revaluation of business rates charged by councils, based on rental prices. So those stores paying over the odds in rent continue to do the same with rates even after renegotiating.

The result is the widespread closures we are seeing now, with whole town centres beginning to look like ghost towns. In towns like Burslem in Stoke-on-Trent, Dewbsury in West Yorkshire, and Newport in South Wales, around 30% of shop front retail space is vacant, according to the Local Data Company.

But underlying all of this is that people simply don't have the money to spend! This is the result of year-on-year pay freezes for many workers, or below-inflation pay 'increases' if we're very lucky.

Overall consumer spending went down last year for the first time in five years, according to Visa. Retail specifically increased, but growth slowed to just 1.9%, the lowest since 2013 says the ONS.

A very poor Christmas saw retail sales fall 1.4% in December compared to November, and then only 'recover' by a pitiful 1.6% in January compared to 1.5% in 2017.

A recovery in the retail sector requires a recovery in the pockets of ordinary workers. Unless the trade union movement leads a fightback on pay, expect the squeeze to continue. And only democratic public ownership and socialist planning can guarantee workers safety from market forces.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


In The Socialist 4 April 2018:

What we think

Fight the Tory enemy

International socialist news and analysis

Gaza - protest is not terrorism!

Catalonia: new Francoist coup - general strike now!

Local elections

End the housing crisis! We can't wait till 2022!

Socialist Party news and analysis

Retail crunch: even giants not immune as 21,000 jobs disappear

Right-wing Vote Leave campaign may have broken spending laws

Good Friday Agreement

Northern Ireland: peace process on the brink

Workplace news and analysis

UCU strike: reject the deal - keep the action on

BT can afford more - reject pensions offer

Bromley library workers walk out over 'insulting' pay offer

Teachers vote to ballot for strike to win 5% raise

RMT strikes in Newcastle and London

Socialist Party reports & campaigns

May Day! The Socialist needs you! Final deadline 11 April!

Students protest as NUS restricts debate

Leeds NHS delays staff privatisation plan

Bristol and Bath students join detained asylum seekers' protest

Sheffield tree fellings paused as bully Labour council feels pressure

London tenants and workers protest against social housing auction


Obituary: Lorraine Dardis (1965-2018)

The Socialist inbox


Home   |   The Socialist 4 April 2018   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleRetail workers desperately need a fighting and democratic union

triangleSainsbury's pay offer shows future will only be 'great pay' if we fight

triangleMorrisons - 10/hr headline hides divisive pay offer

triangleRyan Aldred: Why I'm standing for Usdaw's EC

triangleLockdown 3.0 - fight to make our shops safe!


triangleYouth Fight for Jobs is back

trianglePost-pandemic railway battles loom

triangleYFFJ: more urgent than ever

triangleSwansea Socialist Party: Proper jobs and pay now - Youth fight back


triangleRoad closures: Hackney residents have not been consulted

triangleStop domestic abuse service closures in Brighton

triangleArcadia and Debenhams closures: Nationalise to save jobs and pensions

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis



Trade unions must continue the fight for Covid safety



Keep the Universal Credit uplift



Kick out the privatisers - Fight for a 15% Pay rise



We cannot trust this government over Covid



LGBTQ+ workers' charter



Scrap the privatising health and care bill



Tories threaten to axe free prescriptions for older workers



Defend the triple lock - Fight to end poverty pensions



Wealth chasm widens



COP26: Socialist change to end the climate crisis



Fight is on to save our NHS



Manchester death rate caused by deprivation



Tories deliver second slap in the face to NHS workers



Batley & Spen byelection: Another condemnation of Starmer's New Labour



Preparing for struggle in post-Covid Britain

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 077 7221 5281

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793



Alphabetical listing

July 2021

June 2021

May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021