28 May 2024, 11:48
By Furniture News Feb 03, 2016

Concerns for 2016 retail labour market

The equivalent number of full-time jobs fell marginally by 0.2% in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared with the same period last year. In the fourth quarter of 2015, the number of outlets fell by 0.3% the first decline in the number of stores since Q4 2012. Both food and non-food retailers contributed to the overall decrease in the number of stores. The number of full-time employees in non-food retail fell in the fourth quarter of 2015, for the first time since July 2014.

BRC chief executive, Helen Dickinson OBE, says: “These figures suggest that the outlook for the retail labour market remains uncertain in the short-term at least. While the number of full-time jobs in the fourth quarter of 2015 fell marginally when compared with the same period last year, we also saw a small decline in the number of outlets, with both food and non-food retailers closing stores.

“The picture was further muddied with the number of full-time equivalent employees in the food sector rising for the second consecutive quarter while the latest data showed a fall in non-food, the first time since July 2014.

“Following a relatively buoyant consumer environment last year, 2016 is set to be tough for the retail labour market. Government policies, that come into effect this year, will add as much as £14b to the retail wages, training and rates bill over the next four years, and in doing so are likely to constrain any possibility of strong jobs growth in the industry. But with the Chancellor’s review of business rates reporting in March, there is an opportunity to deliver fundamental reform of rates and instil more confidence in retailers for the future.”

Christina Tolvas-Vincent, head of retail employment at business law firm Bond Dickinson, says: “The real tell-tale figures in this report are that retailers’ employment intentions for the next three months are more pessimistic than for the same period last year. This reflects a variety of challenges facing the sector but, in our view, the most likely challenges are the impending implementation of the National Living Wage in April and concerns over the cost of the Apprenticeship Levy being introduced in April 2017.

“As one of the biggest employers in the UK this will have an impact on the retail sector, and these figures suggest that retailers are nervous about laws that will create additional labour costs. Businesses should be prepared for the National Living Wage by now but if they aren’t, they should act quickly to ensure they are compliant, and that the financial impact of the changes are understood.”

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