The number of full-time jobs in retail declined 2.5% in the first quarter of 2018, compared to the same period last year, as the industry continues to go through a period of significant transition.
Total hours were down 3.2%, and most retailers reported a reduction in both hours and employment, according to research from the British Retail Consortium (BRC). The retail industry is the UK’s largest private sector employer, and store sales were also found to have fallen 3%.
Of those surveyed, 75% said they intended to keep staffing levels the same, with 12.5% saying they planned to reduce staff levels compared to 14% a year ago. The remaining 12.5% said they intend to increase levels.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “The expected further rises in business rates and employment costs are contributing to the pressure on retailers to close stores and reduce job numbers further.
“Policy makers can play their part by reforming the current business rates system, which places a disproportionate burden on retailers, who pay 25% of the total rates bill despite making up a much smaller proportion of the economy.”
However, she said the future for retail is still a positive one. “Retailers are investing in technology and innovation which is transforming the retail experience for customers, and the industry has a vision for better retail jobs in the future that will improve productivity and provide quality employment opportunities for people across the UK.”