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  1. ITV Report

'It's like watching someone slowly dying': The lives affected by the UK's struggling retail industry

  • Video report by ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi

Big retail brands on the UK's high street have laid off staff as they struggle to battle on in an industry that is fighting to survive.

British Retail Consortium data this week showed 70,000 retail employees lost their jobs in the last three months of 2018, with many full-time and part-time workers having their hours reduced.

Behind that statistic are many stories about lives changed as a result of the downturn on the high street.

Here, we hear from business owners, managers and employees about the impact the changing face of the high street has had on them.

  • 'It's like watching someone slowly dying'

Sharon Godden compares the retail decline to "watching someone die".

She has been working at a family-owned workwear store in Kent for 32 years and said it's "awful" to see the industry like this.

"It's like watching someone slowly dying and it's awful and it's beyond our control," she added.

  • 'I'm really pleased my late husband isn't here to see it because it would've completely finished him'

Ann Baldock, who's the owner of the Kent store, will be closing the shop next week after 140 years in the family.

She said it's been "very emotional" and difficult to lay off staff.

"It's not just about a shop shutting, it is a family business that is closing, the worst thing for me has been having to make people redundant."

The retailer added: "It's very sad, I feel worse for the staff than really for me.

"I'm really pleased in one respect my husband isn't here to see it cause it would've completely finished him," Ms Baldock said.

70,000
Retail workers lost their jobs in 2018
  • 'I only knew my store was closing when people were changing the locks'

James Minnis, a Patisserie Valerie operations director from Glasgow, was made redundant on Wednesday after the chain went into administration.

Mr Minnis only found out his store was closing when people turned up to change the locks.

"I had no idea, people just turned up to change the locks and that was it," he said.

"I received phone calls on Tuesday night from staff in tears because they're wondering about how they're going to pay rents and bills," Mr Minnis said.

  • 'You wonder who is going to fill all the empty shops'

Russell Pinks was made redundant from Maplin, where he was a sales assistant and then a manager in one of its London stores.

He said: "It's sad to see so many empty shops on the high street, it really is, and you just wonder which company is going to fill them, if there is any."

Mr Pinks, who's been working in retail for eight years said he wanted "to be there until the end".

"I worked very hard for Maplin and I think that there was a slight part of me that wanted to be there till the end, til the very last door closed," he added.

The retail crisis blighting Britain's high streets hit two more big names on Friday, as stationery retailer Paperchase considered closing some of its 145 stores.

It looks like workers are likely to bear the brunt as the industry declines.