Cold driving rain is hitting the windows of the NTI newsroom at our nerve centre above a chippie in Tower Hamlets, so we can only imagine how miserable it must be for thousands of retailers who find themselves hunched in the doorways of the homeless up and down the length of Britain this morning (Tuesday 3 January).
The Federation of Small Businesses released data at the end of 2022 reporting how their members have experienced a 424 per cent rise in gas costs and 349 per cent increase in electricity since this time last year. This is a situation that is not going to improve any time soon. Tales of misery abound across the whole SME sector, that takes in restaurants, cafés, pubs and bars before returning on itself to swoop up shops, dry cleaners, take-outs and any number of small businesses who are one bar of a heater away from financial collapse.
In 2022, 17,000 small retailers closed their doors for the last time, succumbing to Liquidation as the result of the toxic cocktail of increases in supplier costs, delivery and container prices, the cost of living crisis and the coup de grâce of eye-watering energy bills. Business insolvencies accounted for 5,509 of these and the remainder were the result of big and small chains cutting overheads in the face of rising costs brought on by an inflation rate that stood at 10.7 per cent in November, having reached a 41-year high of 11.1 per cent the previous month.
The Centre for Retail Research reported some eye-boggling statistics to back up in numbers what we have seen headlined on the Internet: big retailers shut 6,055 shops and independent businesses shut 11,090, the Centre said, which equated to 47 shops closing every day.
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Joshua Bamfield is a director at the Centre. He said: “Rather than company failure, rationalisation now seems to be the main driver for closures as retailers continue to reduce their cost base at pace.” The Centre expects the trend of closures to continue this year.
For those of you signing up to NTI's Joint Board courses this year it is precisely this detailed awareness of sector numbers and statistics which will underpin your search for vital 'holistic marks' in this year's papers in November. We, of course, have a unique capacity and capability to bring you all of the stats, commentary, sector-specific information and much-demanded 'commercial reality'.
It is good to have you with us.