Growth in the retail sector has signalled a turnaround in the jobs market, finds the BRC-Bond Dickinson Retail Employment Monitor for Q3 2015 (July-September).

The equivalent number of full-time retail jobs rose by 0.8% in the third quarter of 2015 compared with the same period last year, the fastest rate of growth in hours worked since March 2014. The number of outlets rose by 1.1%. Both food and non-food retailers contributed to this increase, and both contributed to the rise in full-time equivalent jobs.

BRC chief executive, Helen Dickinson, says: “Retailers are beginning to prepare for extra demand at Christmas which shows in the rise of hours across the industry of 0.8%t. Growth is spread across the whole of the industry with both food and non-food retailers reporting rises. This pauses a 19-consecutive-month decline in FTE reported by food retailers.

“The news that Government policies could add £14b to the retail wages, training and rates bill over the next five years casts a shadow over the possibility of future strong jobs growth. We will be watching the figures very closely to see how the impact of this additional burden affects employment prospects in retail going forward. A commitment from the Chancellor to keep his promise of fundamental reform of rates would instil more confidence in retailers for the future.”

Christina Tolvas-Vincent, head of retail employment at business law firm Bond Dickinson, adds: “Green shoots of recovery are clearly visible, even amongst grocers, who have seen the first increase in hours worked for almost two years despite tough economic challenges.

“Retailers should be feeling more optimistic, with continued low inflation and a recovering employment market continuing to boost consumer confidence and spending power. However there are significant challenges for retailers ahead, such as the implementation of the national living wage next April. As one of the biggest employers in the UK, the retail sector will be heavily affected and, if they haven’t already done so, retailers should start planning for how to meet this new cost without delay.”