Spike in firms filing for administration

Karen Millen went into administration last summer
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The number of firms slumping into administration rose by 5% last year, driven by the construction and real estate sectors.

A spike in insolvencies over the summer fuelled the rise, with 420 firms going into administration within three months, including high-profile casualties Jack Wills, Karen Millen, Late Rooms, and Eversmart Energy.

In total, 1,403 firms went bust in 2019, compared to 1,341 a year earlier, according to accountants KPMG.

But despite the tough year for the UK high street, the number of retailers entering administration actually fell in 2019 from 170 to 133.

High street woe is 'having profound impact'

Closing down sale
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More on those administration figures.

“2019 was a year characterised by profound political and economic uncertainty, with consumer confidence remaining fragile and companies continuing to bear the brunt of rising overheads and increased costs, KPMG's head of restructuring Blair Nimmo said.

“While many businesses battened down the financial hatches, adopting a prudent and cautious strategy, for some, the challenging trading conditions proved to be a bridge too far.”

He added that "the demise and ongoing restructuring of a large number of high street retailers is having a profound impact on commercial property income and values”.

Electric cars continue to light up the motor industry

Electric car being charged
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The one bright spot in an otherwise dismal 2019 for car registrations was the jump in sales of electric and hybrid vehicles.

Registrations of pure-electric cars were up 144%, albeit from a very low level. Electrics now account for 1.6% of the UK market.

The industry generally could remain in the doldrums without an improvement in consumer confidence, says KPMG automotive expert Justin Benson.

But whatever happens, he expects another jump in electric sales. "I believe that 2020 will be the year the industry sees sales of electric vehicles double again.

"New emissions regulations and increased consumer awareness around climate change will drive continued growth," he said.