BASINGSTOKE is ranked third worst town in England to suffer job losses in retail sector during the post-Covid phase.

A study conducted by KPMG, one of the Big Four accounting organisations, found that England’s high street could lose up to 400,000 retail jobs as a result of more people working from home and shopping online.

Affluent towns in the south of England are most vulnerable to job losses, with Basingstoke ranked third most at risk of having the greatest declines in retail employment as a share of local economic activity.

Out of the 109 towns and cities studied, Bracknell and Hemel Hempstead are ranked first and second to suffer the most.

Basingstoke has already seen shops like Debenhams, Zara, Laura Ashley, Monsoon Accessorize, Oak Furnitureland, Mothercare and Greggs close down since the start of the pandemic. It has also seen job losses at Sainsbury and Argos.

According to the study, an increase in remote working and online shopping is expected to be one of the lasting legacies of the pandemic. However, the report said some places would record a bigger decline in commuter footfall than others, and that this would accelerate the hollowing-out of high street shopping in these locations.

In a report published in the Guardian, KPMG said the shifting trends caused by the pandemic would have far-reaching consequences for Boris Johnson’s levelling-up agenda, which has so far focused on historically weaker local economies in the Midlands and northern England.

Finding that some of the most vulnerable places in the Covid recession were in the traditionally affluent south-east, KPMG said the balance was shifting so that these areas would need to do more to refocus their local economies in future.

Yael Selfin, the chief economist at KPMG in the UK, said: “As people travel less for work or to shop, town and city centres will need alternative offerings to fill vacant space and to attract people to the area as we hopefully leave the pandemic behind sometime this year.

“High streets will need to be reimagined as cultural and recreational hubs that will act as magnets for businesses and jobs able to transform less prosperous areas.”

The 10 most vulnerable places post-Covid

1 Bracknell

2 Hemel Hempstead

3 Basingstoke

4 Warrington

5 Guildford

6 Swindon

7 Watford

8 Slough

9 Stockport

10 Basildon