A total of 57,000 retail jobs were lost in 2019, following the 16th consecutive quarter of year-on-year decline, new research has found.
The British Retail Consortium’s Retail Employment Monitor shows full-time employment fell by 3% in the fourth quarter of 2019, while part-time employment fell by 1.2%, compared to the same period in 2018.
The research found that 38% of retailers plan on hiring fewer employees in the next quarter, compared to 29% in the same period last year. Meanwhile, 8% of retailers indicated plans to increase staff in the coming quarter, compared to 14% a year earlier.
“Following figures showing 2019 was the worst year on record for retail sales growth, it comes as no surprise that retail shed the equivalent of 57,000 jobs compared to Q4 ”, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said.
”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. This matters – 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.
“Moreover, 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. There are opportunities for action and the government’s review of business rates could not come at a more crucial time. It is essential that they reform this broken system and rectify a tax that sees retail, which accounts for 5% of the economy, pay 25% of the burden.”