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Continuing growth of empty shops further demonstrates the need for an industrial strategy for retail says Usdaw

Date: 30 July 2021 Retail trade union Usdaw has expressed deep concern about the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Local Data Company (LDC) shop vacancy monitor. The figures reveal that the vacancy rate across the country increased to 14.5% in the last quarter from 14.1%, with one-in-five shopping centre units now sitting empty.
Usdaw continues to call for the Government to work with them and employers to develop an industrial strategy for retail. The union has long campaigned for action to support the struggling retail sector and calls on the Government to immediately:
  • extend the business rates holiday at 100% until the end of the financial year, as has already happened in the devolved nations.
  • fundamentally reform business rates. Despite the recent interim report, following last year’s call for evidence, the Government is yet to take the clear and decisive action that retailers need to reform/reduce this outdated and imbalanced commercial property tax. The call for some form of online sales tax is getting stronger, particularly in light of the rapid growth in online shopping. A levy set at 1% of online sales would raise around £1.5bn. This could fund a cut in business rates of around 20%.
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.

“With over 180,000 jobs lost across the industry last year and 200,000 predicted for this year, we need immediate action from the Government to reduce rents and rates for high street retailers, alongside levelling the playing field with an online sales tax. The coronavirus pandemic has pushed many retailers and retail workers to breaking point, so we need government measures to be equally significant.

“Retailers need urgent measures to deal with the immediate crisis and a longer term strategy to deal with some of the more fundamental structural issues facing the industry. Usdaw is calling for the Government to adopt an urgent recovery plan for the retail sector.”

Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 380,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades.
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