29 May 2024, 17:07
By Furniture News May 03, 2016

Concerns grow for retail labour market

The number of full-time retail jobs fell by 0.9% in Q1 2016 compared with the same period last year, according to the BRC-Bond Dickinson Retail Employment Monitor.

In the first quarter of 2016, the number of outlets fell by 0.5% YOY. This is lower than the 0.3% fall seen in Q4 2015. Food retailers drove the overall decrease in the number of stores.

On a rolling three-month basis, food retailers saw a decline in the equivalent number of employees following two consecutive quarters of growth H2 2015. The equivalent number of full-time employees in non-food retail grew in the first quarter of 2016.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive, British Retail Consortium, says: “The retail industry saw a near one percent fall in the level of full-time equivalent employment in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period last year. This is the sharpest decline in retail employment since the third quarter of 2014. The start of 2016 registered the biggest dip across the quarter with 1.2% fewer full-time equivalent jobs in January than in January 2015. This also sits alongside a continued decline in store numbers with retailers reporting 0.5% fewer shops than existed a year ago.

“These figures confirm that the rate of change within retail is quickening as the digital revolution reshapes the industry, more property leases come up for renewal and the cost of labour goes up, while the cost of technology goes down. Our recent Retail 2020 report looks at these factors in detail and shows that they could result in as many as 900,000 fewer jobs in retail by 2025, but those that remain will be more productive and higher earning.

"These employment numbers seem to suggest that we have arrived at the beginning of this predicted downward trend. It is now for the retail industry, politicians and policymakers to come together to ensure that this change is well managed in order to mitigate its impact on vulnerable communities and economically deprived areas.”

Christina Tolvas-Vincent, head of retail employment, Bond Dickinson, adds: “While the UK unemployment rate continues to fall, the retail sector is still undergoing a challenging time. Food retailers continue to be most affected, with the fall in full-time employees in the food sector driving the slight overall decline. The vast majority of retailers intend to keep staffing levels unchanged over the next quarter, revealing a sense of uncertainty which could be attributable to June’s EU referendum. It is also likely that the recently implemented National Living Wage will be having an effect on the industry as one of the biggest employers in the UK.”

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