Non-food stores drive two-year employment low

Retail employment suffered its sharpest quarterly fall in two years in the third quarter of this year, with the worst drops being experienced by non-food retailers.

Non-food stores drive two-year employment low

According to the BRC-Bond Pearce Retail Employment Monitor, employment in the sector was down 0.8% over the same quarter a year earlier, the equivalent of 5,780 fewer full-time jobs, and the biggest decline since the annual comparisons started in October 2009.

There was a marked difference between the food and non-food retail labour markets, with the latter seeing a sharp fall in both full-time and part-time hours worked. Part-time hours fell at their fastest rate since December 2010, when heavy snow severely disrupted the sector, while full-time hours fell at their fastest since October 2009.

There was almost no rise in the number of non-food stores, and the average number of employees per store fell – suggesting that non-food retailers are adjusting staffing levels as footfall declines and trading conditions worsen.

In contrast, grocery retailers continued to open new stores and grew staffing levels.

The monitor also shows little movement from its very low levels of redundancy, indicating that, rather than making employees redundant, most retailers will leave positions unfilled once an employee leaves.

Commenting on the latest figures, head of retail employment with the business law firm Bond Pearce, Christina Tolvas-Vincent, said: “Retailers are being battered by the same economic conditions that have led to the highest unemployment rate for 17 years. There’s no doubt it’s tough out there but retailers are showing their determination to hold on to market share by keeping redundancies low and riding out the storm as best they can.”

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