Thousands of retail businesses in the U.K.’s town centers are on the brink of collapse, a veteran retail analyst is set to warn the U.K. government this week, just as data appears to confirm a rebound in consumer confidence and sales.
“As a check up on the health of the high street, the prognosis is not good,” Bill Grimsey, a co-author of the report and former chief executive of DIY chain Wickes and food store Iceland, said in a report on the U.K. retail sector due to be presented on Wednesday.
“Over 20,000 businesses are at risk and we can expect more and more business failures. There are around 40,000 empty shops in the UK, and this has remained constant over the past three years,” Grimsey said.
The analysis, carried out by financial risk management group Company Watch, showed that nearly half of the U.K.’s retailers were under “horrible stress financially” – a factor more common in smaller retailers. Grimsey urged the government to reduce business rates, increase bank lending to small retailers and the introduce a minister for the retail sector in order to support the industry.
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