Non-food retailers buck falling employment trends

Non-food retailers are bucking the trend as they see employment rise, despite an overall fall driven by food retailers.

According the BRC (British Retail Consortium) Retail Employment Monitor, full-time employment saw its sharpest fall in the Q2 of 2016 since the same quarter in 2014 – and down 2.4 per cent on last year.

In the report, the BRC stated that this fall reflects “the challenging trading environment that the industry is currently facing”.

The increase for non-food retailers was driven by a rise in part-time hours in two of the three months of the quarter, which peaked in June.

Non-feed retailers also went against the trend when it came to the number of outlets in general retail, which fell 0.4 per cent in Q2, again driven by food retailers. The number of non-food outlets increased.

The general decline was seen in all three months of the quarter, although May experienced the most store closures.

From the retailers included in the survey, 96 per cent said they intended to keep staffing levels the same, with the remaining four per cent expecting to increase levels.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Today’s figures show that full-time equivalent employment in the retail industry has fallen at its fastest rate since the second quarter of 2014. The number of stores in the UK has also fallen again, albeit at a slower rate than we have previously seen. This continues to show the dramatic structural changes that are under way in the retail industry.

“In February, the first part of the BRC’s Retail 2020 series of reports predicted that UK retailing would see job numbers fall. As an industry, we are working to ensure that the jobs that remain in UK retailing are higher skilled and more productive. Challenging economic conditions, fierce competition between retailers, customers’ ever-changing shopping preferences, the lightning expansion of digital technology and external demands placed on retailers by government have all put pressure on the UK’s retail businesses.

“Our final Retail 2020 report will outline the steps retailers and Government can take to answer to these many challenges. We all need to ensure that there are not simply fewer jobs in retailing, but that the jobs that remain will be better, too.”