Fall in retail employment “likely to endure” says BRC boss

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the second quarter (Q2) represented the fourteenth consecutive quarter of year-on-year decline in the retail workforce.

Year-on-year, the total number of employees fell by 2.3% in Q2, with full-time employment seeing a higher reduction (3.0%) compared with a decrease in part-time employees (2.0%).

Total hours fell by 2.5%, with full-time hours also seeing a higher reduction (2.7%) than part-time hours (2.3%). This represents a slight slowing in the employment decline, with the number of employees falling by 2.4% in the first quarter (Q1) and hours falling by 2.7%.

Stores growth slowed down to 1.7%, compared to Q1 growth of 2.3%. But 30% of retailers indicated plans to increase staff in the coming quarter, above the comparable figure of 25% last year, and 65% seek to keep their staff numbers unchanged (up from 56% last year). Some retailers stated that as the peak trading period of the year (Black Friday and Christmas) approaches, they plan on increasing their part-time workforce.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson OBE said: “Retail is undergoing a period of profound transformation driven by changing consumer behaviours and innovative technologies. As these structural changes unfold, we have seen retail employment falling across the country, with a 2.3% drop compared with the previous year. This is equivalent to around 72,000 jobs being lost. Such declines are likely to endure, hastened by Government policies that continue to add costs to an industry already under immense pressures.

“With a new Prime Minister and cabinet in place, there is a clear opportunity to rethink the high street strategy. Business rates pose an unsustainable burden on shops and jobs, and we urge the Government to provide immediate relief to retailers large and small in order to facilitate much needed investment in the digital and physical offerings they provide to their customers.”



BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson OBE

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