Furniture multinational IKEA yesterday announced 39 job losses at their Norwich Order and Collection Point which will close permanently. The company says the Norwich presence has not met its sales and profitability targets.

I’m sorry for everyone who’s losing their job. Many will have worked diligently throughout the pandemic as the company turned stores into distribution centres for online orders during lockdown. Yesterday’s announcement will feel like a slap in the face for that loyalty.

These local employees have found themselves in the eye of a storm hitting bricks and mortar retail hard. Almost 40% of retail sales were online last month, 25% up on May 2019 – the previous year before the pandemic emerged. Retail analysts say it’s doubtful many of these people will go back to shopping in-store.

Retail workers are facing a Covid double whammy. The Resolution Foundation thinktank forecasts that low-paid workers are most at risk of losing jobs when furlough ends in September.

All of this really matters because retail is the UK’s largest private employer. My worry is this government has no strategic plan to support the recovery of employment in sectors hit hardest by Covid. And the support it is offering is underwhelming – including the woefully under-resourced ‘restart’ grant scheme.”

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