Retail employment falls for third quarter running

The number of people in full-time employment in the retail sector fell for the third quarter running – and the decline is accelerating.

According to the latest BRC Retail Employment Monitor, the retail sector saw full-time employment fall by three per cent in the third quarter, compared with the same period a year ago, although food retailers saw the sharpest fall.

Of the three months, July saw the sharpest decline, falling 3.6 per cent, followed by a 2.7 per cent drop in August and down 2.6 per cent in September.

The number of outlets also fell in the third quarter, decreasing 1.2 per cent, compared with Q3 of 2015. Both food and non-food retailers drove the overall decrease in the number of stores.

British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “This is the third consecutive quarter in which full-time equivalent employment among retailers has fallen, and the decline appears to be accelerating quarter-on-quarter as they seek productivity gains in a highly competitive market. While both food and non-food retailers saw a fall in FTE [full-time equivalent] employment, the decline is most marked in food.

“We would expect this trend to continue. While we have yet to detect any clear impact on sales from the Brexit referendum, footfall or employment in the industry, inflationary pressures are unquestionably building, due to the impact of the weaker pound on import costs. As retailers look to keep prices low for customers, they are likely to re-examine staffing levels, particularly as competition intensifies and cost pressures imposed by Government continue to take their toll. However, retailers are also actively investing in existing staff to improve the quality of their jobs and productivity per employee.”