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Empty shop surge further demonstrates the need for an industrial strategy for retail says Usdaw

Date: 30 April 2021 Retail trade union Usdaw has expressed deep concern about the latest BRC-LDC shop vacancy monitor. The figures reveal that the vacancy rate across the country increased to 14.1% in the quarter to the end of March, from 13.7% in the last three months of 2020. The Union renews the call for the Government to work with them and employers to develop an industrial strategy for retail.
Usdaw has long campaigned for action to support the struggling retail sector and has launched a retail recovery plan to help struggling high streets build back better from the coronavirus crisis. Usdaw’s retail recovery plan includes calls for:
  • Extending the current business rates holiday to at least the end of the year and fundamentally reform this outdated and imbalanced commercial property tax.
  • Introducing an online sales levy set at 1%, to raise around £1.5bn that could fund a cut in business rates of around 20%.
  • Extending the moratorium on shop evictions for rent arrears and find a wider solution around unpaid rents, with contributions from retailers, landlords and government.
Usdaw’s full retail recovery plan: www.usdaw.org.uk/retailrecovery
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “The UK retail sector has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic on an unprecedented scale, as seen in today’s deeply concerning shop vacancy rates. For an industry already facing significant challenges, the long-term impact will be severe.
“The coronavirus pandemic has pushed many retailers and retail workers to breaking point, so government action needs to be equally significant. Usdaw is calling for an urgent retail recovery plan that provides necessary support for the retail industry.
“I’m pleased that Labour is taking action on this important issue and has set up a new independent Commission on Rebuilding Our High Streets, on which I will be speaking up for retail workers and advising on a strategy to help the retail industry out of crisis.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
Labour’s Commission on Rebuilding Our High Streets was launched by the Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds and brings together experts from retail, leisure and hospitality businesses. Usdaw General Secretary Paddy Lillis will sit on the commission, which will meet regularly over the course of the next six months to offer independent advice to the Labour Party on issues such as:
  • How the high streets of the 2020s and beyond can be supported to thrive, as great places where people can shop, socialise, meet, work and live.
  • Bringing empty commercial properties back into use for existing and new businesses.
  • Levelling the playing field between bricks and mortar businesses and online firms.
  • Promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in our high streets, reflecting the needs of local communities. 
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers