After realizing that shoppers would not likely go back to their old habits following a pandemic that has reshaped retail, two large United Kingdom retailers said they would eliminate over 5,000 positions, Reuters reported.
Department store John Lewis could lose 1,300 positions and shutter eight stores following a forecast that eCommerce sales would comprise as much as 70 percent of its total sales in 2020 and 2021 — up from 40 percent before the pandemic, per Reuters.
John Lewis Partnership Chairman Sharon White said per the report, “We believe closures are necessary to help us secure the sustainability of the Partnership.”
And Walgreens Boots Alliance-owned Boots said it would eliminate 4,000 positions and shutter 48 optician locations following shopper numbers that dropped 85 percent in April at the peak of the COVID-19 restrictions.
As stands, British merchants have already grappled with corporate taxes, costly rents, a quick digital shift and thin profits. They have been especially affected by the lockdown, and customer are reportedly still reluctant to go into stores as restrictions are relaxed.
The sixth-largest economy in the world contracted by 25 percent in April and March. It could be in for its largest drop in 300 years this calendar year as the unemployment rate is on pace to increase by over two times to approximately 10 percent.
A number of planned employment reductions have been made public by Debenhams, Harrods, TM Lewin, Arcadia, Warehouse, Travis Perkins and Oasis.
Rishi Sunak, chancellor of the exchequer, told Parliament on July 8 that the U.K. government would offer cash bonuses and other incentives to employers who bring back workers who were laid off because of the pandemic.
In addition, the government would spend the equivalent of tens of millions to back internships and new positions at companies as part of an effort to bolster work opportunities for young people, per Sunak, in an update to the governmental body.
Sunak said per a news release, “We believe in the nobility of work. We believe in the inspiring power of opportunity. We believe in the British people’s fortitude and endurance.”