High street retail jobs fall in every region except London – ONS

The number of high street retail jobs fell in every region of England, Scotland and Wales except for London between 2012 and 2017, figures show.

While high street retail jobs grew by 6% over the five years in the capital, Wales suffered the steepest slump of 10%, followed by Scotland (8.6%), Yorkshire and the Humber (7%), the East (5.7%) and the East Midlands (4.9%), the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported.

However high street employment within the accommodation and food sector surged by more than 20% in every country and region.

Source: ONS

The number of businesses overall on the high street increased by 15% between 2012 and 2017, compared with a 22% increase in non-high street areas, the first joint project between the ONS and Ordnance Survey shows.

But the number of retail businesses fell by 2% during this time, while those based elsewhere grew by 6%.

The figures are more evidence of a difficult environment for high street retailers over the period and precede two more years of torrid conditions that saw a series of major names collapsing into administration.

The report also shows that the retail sector provided between 25% and 31% of high street employment in all regions and countries of Great Britain except London, where it reached 18%.

In 2017, around 10.3 million people, or 16% of the British population, lived within 200 metres of a high street.

High street areas saw a 6% population growth over the five years, compared with 3% in non-high street areas.

The ONS noted that the high street was in a “period of change”, saying: “The closure of branches of retailers across many high streets has led to worries about the decline of retail on the high street, and in turn anxiety about how high streets will develop in the future.

“In this context, it is important that good data on high streets are available to monitor the changes and inform policy responses.

“Therefore, the ONS and Ordnance Survey have joined together to identify high streets across Great Britain and to produce some initial analysis that investigates a range of data comparing the recent trends on the high street with those in non-high street areas.”

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