400,000 retail jobs could be lost thanks to online retail and work-from-home boom

Up to 400,000 retail jobs could be lost on the UK’s high streets thanks to the boom in online shopping and working from home.

High streets across the country could lose between 20 per cent and 40 per cent of their shops leading to hundreds of thousands of job losses for the retail sector, according to new figures from KPMG.

Online shopping and remote working are predicted to last long after the pandemic has ended, which KPMG says will deal a near fatal body blow to locations reliant on commuter footfall.

Bracknell, a hotspot for London commuters, was judged to be the most at risk with up to 27.4 per cent of jobs in the area expected to continue to be conducted from home after lockdown restrictions have been lifted.

This reduction in commuter footfall is predicted to lead to a loss of 1505 jobs in the area, or roughly 38 per cent of the local retail sector.

Other areas expected to be heavily impacted include Hemel Hempstead, Basingstoke, Warrington and Guildford.

READ MORE: Online retail won’t go back to slower pre-pandemic growth says Mastercard CEO

London could also see a whopping 122,146 retail jobs lost, representing around 30 per cent of the capital’s retail workforce, and 2.3 per cent of its total.

“The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of online shopping, with consumers more likely to purchase household goods online than in a store,” KPMG chief economist Yael Selfin said.

“It has also made working from home acceptable and online gatherings rather than meeting in person the new norm, freeing endless hours of business travel and expense for better use. People are unlikely to return to the old ways of doing things.

“With fewer people coming into big cities and towns to work and shop, that leaves a big space in areas that were once characterised by bustling shops and offices.

“Those places that are most at risk are those that have little else to attract locals and visitors from further afield.”

A number of high-profile retailers including Debenhams, Arcadia and Edinburgh Woollen Mill have already collapsed due to widespread closures during the pandemic, leading to tens of thousands of job losses.

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