May 19, 2021
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Retail accessed more government Covid loans than other sectors

May 19, 2021

The devastation that has been seen in the UK retail industry over the past 14 months has been made clear by a new study that shows small retail businesses accessed the government’s Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) more than businesses in any other sector. It could see more defaults than others too.

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Business Rescue Expert (BRE) has looked at different industry sectors to see how small businesses have embraced the BBLS, and how much has been borrowed. 

And it said that as much as £27 billion could ultimately not be repaid across industries, retail could cost the Treasury £4.6 billion in business and self-employed defaults.

Retail has been hit hard by the pandemic due to lockdowns forcing mass temporary closures. This has already sent a number of businesses under, including some of the UK's biggest fashion retail names, as well as smaller operations.

BRE said retail businesses, which include high street shops, shopping mall tenants and independent stores, borrowed a collective £7.7 billion, which is higher than any other comparable sector. That was much higher than the hospitality sector, which was also hit hard due to cafés, pubs and restaurants – as well as other entertainment venues – being unable to operate.

“If businesses in [the retail] sector fail at the rate officially expected then we can see Bounce Back Loan default losses ranging from £1.16 billion up to a high estimate of £4.6 billion”, BRE said. The best-case scenario is that there could be £600 million worth of defaults.

Shops and stores in the retail sector had the highest individual average figure when it came to how much each individual business has borrowed on average, with £35,530 borrowed. 

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