Retail sector lost 57,000 jobs in the last year

The equivalent of 57,000 retail jobs have been lost in the last year, according to the BRC’s latest Retail Employment Monitor.

This represents 16 consecutive quarters of year-on-year decline. In the fourth quarter of 2019, there was a 1.8 per cent decline in retail jobs, which is better compared to the 2.8 per cent fall during the same period in 2018.

Store growth for this last quarter was also at its lowest since the same period in 2016, seeing only a rise of 0.2 per cent, when in 2018 it was 2.3 per cent.

In addition, there was a three per cent drop in overall full-time retail employment and part-time jobs declined by 1.2 per cent.

The BRC also reported that 38 per cent of retailers said they plan on hiring fewer employees in the coming quarter, while eight per cent of retailers plan to increase staff in the coming quarter.

Said Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, Helen Dickinson OBE: “2019 was the worst year on record for retail sales growth. There were many challenges in 2019: businesses had to contend with the repeated risk of no deal Brexit, a general election and the ongoing transformation of the industry, leading to weak consumer demand. As a result, employment has suffered in retail, the UK’s largest private sector employer.

“Retail offers many people their first job, a range of flexible working options, and huge opportunities for progression. Retailers may be investing heavily in their workers, through training and apprenticeships, but more could be done. The current inflexibility in the Apprenticeship Levy system means that much essential training is not covered, limiting the opportunities for many working in the industry.”

Ms Dickinson said that the Government’s review of business rates “could not come at a more crucial time”, adding: “It is worrying that the Government is standing by while tens of thousands of jobs are being lost. If the same was true in manufacturing or aviation, one can be sure that the Government would act.”