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BRC warns of further high street casualties

An increase in retail administrations — from 165 in 2010 to 183 in 2011 — shows how trading conditions have toughened and how important it is that the UK's governments support the sector by reducing new taxes and regulatory burdens.

Responding to the statistics released today (Monday 9th January) by Deloitte, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) agrees with its warning that more administrations are likely in the coming months, particularly with business rates due to rise by 5.6 per cent in April.

Administrations for the fourth quarter of 2011 were up more than 25 per cent compared with the same period a year earlier, following some improvements since the recession of 2008.

The BRC's Retail Sales Monitor for December, measuring the sector's performance during the most crucial month of the year, is released tomorrow (Tuesday 10th January).

British Retail Consortium Director General, Stephen Robertson, said: "2011 was a tough year with virtually no real terms growth for retailers. In such a competitive sector there will always be businesses that do well while others struggle but seeing such a high number of failures in the final quarter of the year is particularly alarming.

"The next few months are bound to be quieter as consumers rein in spending after Christmas. Retailers are doing their bit by controlling their own costs and keeping prices down for customers despite steep increases in transport and utility bills. The UK's governments need to support the sector's efforts to survive, thrive and maintain jobs by holding back the costs for which they are responsible, including business rates, retail levies and the burden of regulation.

"Retailers don't ask for hand-outs but they do deserve help overcoming some of the barriers to business success. Retail failures leave gaps on our high streets and can result in thousands of job losses. As the private sector's biggest employer and a major source of jobs for the under 25s, retail needs politicians to recognise the folly of making life harder than it already is."

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