More than 12,000 jobs will be lost after a stream of high street dealers and airlines have announced cuts in the past two days due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
In retail, the John Lewis Partnership warned of shop closings and job cuts, while the Harrods luxury department store reportedly lost around 700 staff members.
John Lewis said in a statement that “it is highly unlikely” that the company will reopen all its stores because it had “too much room for the way people want to shop now”.
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Last Tuesday, the owner of Upper Crust SSP announced that up to 5,000 roles could go following a sharp drop in passenger exchanges at railway stations and airports.
Meanwhile, the manufacturer of the Airbus plane said it would let 1,700 employees go to the UK and EasyJet announced job cuts for 1,300 crew members and 727 pilots.
The so-called “retail bloodbath” also saw Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia group blame “very difficult times” in the industry as it revealed plans to cut head office operations.
“Due to the impact of Covid-19 on our business, including the closure of all our stores and headquarters for more than three months, today we informed the staff of the need to renovate our headquarters”, the group, owner of Burton, Topshop and other high street brands said.
“This restructuring is essential to ensure that we operate as efficiently as possible during these very difficult times.”
The wave of job cuts came when Labor demanded the extension of the government’s government plan for workers most at risk of losing their jobs during the Covid-19 crisis.
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer warns that “the last chance to save millions of jobs” was fast approaching after Boris Johnson launched his economic recovery plan on Tuesday.
“There was nothing in the prime minister’s speech for the 3.2 million people in hospitality, or 2.9 million in the retail business,” Sir Keir told the prime minister.
The furlough regime, which paid 80% of the wages of 9.3 million workers, is expected to be closed in late July and closed in October, causing fears of mass unemployment later in the year.
Johnson has so far declined to indicate what level of unemployment is expected during the crisis, but warned Tuesday that many jobs before the pandemic would not return.
Milan Pandya, partner of the tax and consulting firm Blick Rothenberg, has asked the government for a “clear and complete plan” to support non-essential retailers running out of liquidity.
“The fashion industry alone employs over 900,000 people, many of whom are found in retail stores,” said Pandya.
“If the recent wave of closings and layoffs continues, the government has a real long-term unemployment problem as many jobs will be relatively low-skilled.”
Additional reporting by agencies