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Fall in retail employment ‘likely to endure’

By Sasha Fedorenko August 9, 2019 - 12:57 pm

The second trading quarter of 2019 represents the fourteenth consecutive quarter of year-on-year (YoY) decline in the retail employment, evidence that the transformation of the industry continues to play out in earnest, says the latest figures from BRC.

According to the analysis from British Retail Consortium, the total number of employees fell by 2.3% in Q2 on the (YoY) basis, with full-time employment seeing a higher reduction (3.0%), compared to the 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 Q1 and hours falling by 2.7%.

Stores growth slowed down to 1.7%, compared to Q1 growth of 2.3%. Both food and non-food retailers added stores. The report points the increase of the automation of some retail jobs and changing shopping behaviours such that the store is increasingly serving a different role, centred more around customer experience and offering social activities, for which fewer staff is needed.

Some 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. That’s 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.

The report attributes the fall in retail employment to the “profound transformation driven by changing consumer behaviours and innovative technologies.

These industry changes are seeing the retail employment falling across the country, with a 2.3% drop as compared with the previous year; this is equivalent to around 72,000 jobs being lost.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) says the 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, says Helen, 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.

  • 3 months ago

    Does the public prefer self serve/automation eg. online, self-serve kiosk or actually interacting with staff. I guess it depends on product/service you are buying and age generation.

    We are social creatures though so still need healthy face to face interaction!!

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