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The UK retail sector has lost almost 190,000 jobs since the first coronavirus lockdown in March 2020, according to new research.

Figures by the Centre for Retail Research, released to PA News over the weekend, show that 188,685 retail jobs have disappeared between the first UK national lockdown in the UK on 23 March 2020 and 31 March 2021.

The job losses have been driven the permanent closure of 15,153 stores over the year, with another 400,000 estimated to be currently temporarily closed due to government COVID restrictions.

The collapse of Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group is responsible for approaching half the total job losses, with 83,725 roles lost.

Another 11,986 jobs have disappeared due to Company Voluntary Arrangement processes as retailers restructured to reduce rents and shed unprofitable store locations.

A further 92,974 jobs were lost through rationalisation programmes, including job losses at supermarkets including Sainsbury’s and Asda, despite remaining open and seeing an overall sales lift during the period.

The data comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed yesterday that non-essential shops will re-open on 12 April.

Additionally, public houses, cafes and restaurants with outdoor facilities will also be able to partially trade again from next week.

Shore Capital analyst Clive Black noted the move will see a significant number of people return to work from furlough. “The increase in worker mobility should assist activity in the transport hubs of England and so the associated facilities, for example food systems,” he said. “The supply chains and ancillary providers should be busier, so feeding into measures of manufacturing and service industry activity.”

He suggested food to go specialists such as SSP Group and Greggs could see a tick up in its UK rail activities from workers, shoppers and general retail footfall, while Greencore could benefit from an increase in the consumption of calories on the go.

Morning update

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 has started the week on the front foot after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s encouraging COVID update yesterday.

The FTSE is up 1.1% to 6,812.2pts so far this morning.

Risers include Marston’s, up 4.4% to 103.2p, SSP Group, up 3.7% to 397p, McColl’s Retail Group, up 3.1% to 31.7p and Compass Group, up 2.5$ to 1,533p.

Fallers so far today include online specialists Ocado, down 2% to 2,050p and Just Eat, down 1.5% to 6,790.8p and Science in Sport, down 1.5% to 60.6p. 

This week in the City

A quiet week as the City eases back into action after the Easter break is highlighted by the release of the monthly Nielsen grocery sales figures on Wednesday after rival Kantar showed a marked downturn in grocery sales during March.

Also tomorrow Tesco meat packer Hilton Food Group will release its full year earnings, while in the US Costco will issue its monthly sales update.

On Thursday in the US beer, wine and spirits producer Constellation Brands posts its full year results, while food group Conagra releases its full year earnings.