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The troubles of small business in Japan and the UK

Due to the sharp decline in Japan’s birth rate and the ageing process of the population, the average age of Japanese business owners has increased to around 62 years old. Almost 60% of entrepreneurs have no plan for the future. An example is Hidekazu Yokoyama, owner of a logistics business on the island of Hokkaido. His children or employees had no intention of taking over the business, which was eventually given away for free. In 2019, Japan’s Ministry of Commerce predicted that by 2025, some 630,000 thriving businesses would go out of business, and 6.5 million jobs would disappear.

According to the UK  Retail Research Centre, 17,145 shops closed down across the country in 2022. This is an average of around 47 shops per day and almost 50% more than in 2021 when almost 11,500 premises of this type were closed. Roughly ⅓ of the shops went out of business, and the rest were closed down by a decision of the chain’s authorities as part of cost optimisation. As a result of these changes, more than 151,000 retail jobs disappeared last year, including online shops. This is by more than 45,000 jobs more than the year before.

London’s oldest Arabic bookshop closed on 31 December 2022 Al-Saqi Books has been operating since 1978 and has been a vital venue for Arabs residing in London. It provided a treasure trove of literary works for Arab emigrants living in the city and across Europe. The bookshop’s closure was decided by, among other factors, economic challenges caused by Brexit and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, high taxes, shipping costs and rising book prices.

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